GENEVA (ILO News) - The plight of children who work in mines and quarries that are often dangerous, dirty and can post a grave risk to their health and safety will be the focus of the fourth World Day Against Child Labour, scheduled for 12 June 2005, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said today.
The ILO estimates that some one million children work in small scale mining and quarrying around the world. What's more, ILO studies show that these children work in some of the worst conditions imaginable, where they face serious risk of dying on the job or sustaining injuries and health problems that will affect them throughout their lives.
In both surface and underground mines, children work long hours, carry heavy loads, set explosives, sieve sand and dirt, crawl down narrow tunnels, breathe in harmful dusts and work in water - often in the presence of dangerous toxins such as lead and mercury, the ILO says. Children mine diamonds, gold, and precious metals in Africa, gems and rock in Asia, and gold, coal, emeralds and tin in South America.
In rock quarries located in many parts of the world, children face safety and health risks from pulling and carrying heavy loads, breathing in hazardous dust and particles and using dangerous tools and crushing equipment.
The experience of the ILO International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) - which has conducted pilot projects in Mongolia, Tanzania, Niger and the Andean countries of South America - demonstrates that it is feasible to eliminate child labour in dangerous conditions by helping the mining and quarrying communities acquire legal rights, organize cooperatives or other productive units, improve the health and safety and productivity of adult workers, and secure essential services - such as schools, clean water and sanitation systems - in these often remote regions.
The ILO launched the World Day in June 2002 as a means of raising the visibility of the problem and highlighting the global movement to eliminate child labour, particularly its worst forms. This year, on and about 12 June, local and national organizations and many children's groups are expected to join with ILO constituents around the world to observe the World Day, which occurs during the annual International Labour Conference in Geneva, and to emphasize the need for the immediate removal of child workers from small scale mines and quarries.
For more information, please contact ILO Department of Communication in Geneva at (+4122) 799-7912 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Susan Gunn at ILO/IPEC at (+4122) 799-6107.