A UN report released Thursday indicates that for the first time in two decades, the number of children being put to work has risen to 160 million worldwide, representing an increase of 8.4 million over four years.
The report further states that millions others are at risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore urged governments and international development banks, “to prioritize investments in programmes that can get children out of the workforce and back into school”.
The Director also called for better social protection programmes “that can help families avoid making this choice in the first place”.
The report published by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), released ahead of World Day Against Child Labour on June 12, warns that progress to end child labour has stalled for the first time in 20 years, reversing the previous downward trend that saw the number put to work fall by 94 million between 2000 and 2016.
A significant rise of children working between the ages of 5 and 11 has been witnessed, which accounts for just over half of the total global figure.
According to the report, globally, nine million additional children are at risk of being pushed into child labour by the end of 2022 as a result of the pandemic, which could rise to 46 million without access to critical social protection coverage.