Across the globe more than 150 million children between age five and 14 are involved in child labour, while India is home to the highest number of working children in the world. On International Day Against Child Labour on Friday, attempts are under way to put a stop to it. In India, more than 28 million children have jobs, according to UNICEF estimates. India’s current child labour law prohibits children under the age of 14 from being employed in hazardous jobs. However, in May this year, rather than encouraging a complete abolition of child labour in the country, the cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved only amendments to the law.
Three-hundred children in South Sudan’s Northern Bahr El Ghazal region have been abandoned by parents fleeing the country to escape two years of drought, a collapsing economy, and mass hunger. The UN World Food Program (WFP) and UNICEF brought Al Jazeera to a mosque run by the Northern Bahr El Ghazal Islamic Council in the town of Majook, close to South Sudan’s border with Sudan, where the children are forced to reside after their parents abandoned them to make the journey north alone. WFP said 5.3 million people in South Sudan are at risk of acute hunger, nearly half the population, which is already causing deaths among the country’s most vulnerable, and increasing the number of people fleeing across the border to neighbouring Sudan. Recent fighting between the country’s President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar’s opposing armies has exacerbated problems in providing aid.
From European settlement in 1888, child convicts were occasionally sent to Australia where they were made to work. Child labour was not as excessive in Australia as in Britain. With a low population, agricultural productivity was higher and families did not face starvation as in established industrialised countries. Australia also did not have significant industry until the later part of the 20th century when child labour laws, and compulsory schooling had developed under the influence of Britain. From the 1870s Child labour was restricted by compulsorry schooling.
Child labour laws in Australia differ from state to state. Generally, children are allowed to work at any age, but restrictions exist for children under 15 years of age. These restrictions apply to work hours and the type of work that children can perform. In all states, children are obliged to attend school until a minimum leaving age, (15 years of age in all states except Tasmania and Queensland where the leaving age is 15).
Over 30 million children are now displaced by war and conflict. «We must increase our efforts to protect, help and bring new opportunities and hope to the youngest and most vulnerable victims of war», says NRC´s Secretary General, Jan Egeland. Children make up 52 percent of the 59.5 million people displaced by war today, according to the new Global Trends Report from UNHCR.