RIYADH: Prince Abdul Aziz bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz, chairman of the Arab Council for Childhood and Development, called for a doubling of efforts to combat child labor in light of serious economic and social challenges in the Arab region.
He said in a statement on the World Day Against Child Labor that the coronavirus pandemic, with its economic, social, and educational repercussions, will worsen the problem of child labor by pushing families into unemployment and poverty.
Prince Abdul Aziz, who is also the chairman of the Prince Talal International Prize for Human Development, said that this could result in children being taken out of education and placed in the labor market, which could increase intergenerational poverty and expose children to psychological and physical abuse.
He called on government institutions, the private sector and international organizations to unite and double their efforts to counter the effects of the pandemic on children and to work to ensure that they stayed in school.
“Children are the ones who shape the future of the region, and taking good care of them, developing their talents and ensuring their psychological and physical safety would guarantee a better future for all of us,” he said.
Prince Abdul Aziz highlighted the council’s role at a regional and global level in implementing legal and legislative frameworks, providing work and financial integration for youth, and working on developing policies to provide social protection and reduce poverty.
He called for immediate measures to eliminate forced labor and end slavery and human trafficking to ensure the prohibition and eradication of the worst forms of child labor, aiming to achieve sustainable development goals by ending child labor by 2025.
The prince said that there were estimates that millions of Arab children were working into the labor market.
A steady increase in their numbers has been seen in sectors including agriculture, services, industry, and in illegal activities such as forced labor.
Prince Abdul Aziz stressed the importance of developing broad programs to fight poverty, facilitate access to education and health care, aid the empowerment of women, and ensure solidarity between governments, companies, civil society and individuals, to protect children in light of these challenges.