ILO, the Arab League and FAO discuss the implications of child labour for Arab States

Following a consultation meeting to discuss the draft findings of a regional study, ILO and Arab League officials met to discuss a possible long-term partnership between the two organizations to jointly address child labour issues across the region.

Press release | 05 February 2018
CAIRO (ILO News) – The International Labour Organization (ILO) organized a consultation meeting to discuss the draft findings of a regional study on “Child Labour in the Arab States: Profile and Magnitude”, which was hosted by the League of Arab States (LAS) at their premises in Cairo, Egypt.

The study is led by LAS and the ILO Regional Office for Arab States, in partnership with the ILO Cairo Office, the Arab Council for Childhood Development (ACCD), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

It aims to provide an overview of the characteristics and extent of child labour in its different forms (domestic work, child soldiers, child prostitution, street children) and sectors (domestic work, construction, services and agriculture) in light of the Syrian as well as other regional crises and developments. The main goal is to formulate a set of policy recommendations to help countries in the region tackle child labour in its different forms and in all the relevant and pertinent sectors, such as agriculture and child involvement in armed conflicts.

The Lebanon-based Consultation and Research Institute (CRI) is conducting the study, supported by quantitative data analyzed by the Rome-based Understanding Children’s Work (UCW,) a joint ILO, UNICEF and World Bank Initiative. During the one-day consultation, the two research institutes presented the preliminary findings and gathered contributions from a group of experts and from representative of a number of LAS Members States including Iraq, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Yemen, Algeria, Lebanon and Morocco. The final version of the study will be disseminated later on this year.

"My sincere hope is that this study will set a precedent for further collaborative research efforts, that will result in pragmatic policies and direct interventions to lessen the suffering of children in this region,” said Frank Hagemann, ILO Deputy Regional Director for Arab States commented.

“The aim is to take them out of exploitative and hazardous work, return them to their classrooms, and ensure that long-term sustainable measures are in place to prevent their return to the workplace until they are of legal age, with the competencies and skills they need to acquire decent work and secure livelihoods," Hagemann continued.

Hagemann pointed to concerns over a mounting child labour problem in the region. “Protracted conflicts, mass displacements, humanitarian crises, loss of jobs and livelihoods, and rising poverty and food insecurity – as well as continued high unemployment rates and informality – have all contributed to a rise in child labour across the region in recent years. The millions of Arab children engaged in child labour – often in its worst and most hazardous forms – bear tragic testimony to the urgent necessity for the study we are here to examine today,” Hagemann said.

Alfredo Impiglia, manager of the regional initiative on small-scale family farming noted in his opening remarks: “In the region, most child labourers are found in agriculture. This gives FAO a critical and strategically key role in addressing this challenge.”

Ambassador Mekkawy, Director of the Women, Family and Childhood Department at LAS, welcomed the collaboration between LAS, ILO and FAO on this important topic. She emphasized that the Arab States should continue to prioritize the protection of children.

Following the consultation meeting, an ILO team lead by Hagemann met with Assistant Secretary-General for Social Affairs at the League of Arab States Badreddine Al Ali, to discuss a possible long-term partnership between the two organizations to jointly address child labour issues across the region, including the effects of armed conflicts and refugee crises on the prevalence and nature of child labour.