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Press release

UNICEF calls for renewed efforts and investment to combat child labour

THE HAGUE, 11 May 2010 - "Identifying the most vulnerable children requires new efforts and increased funding," UNICEF said today, on the opening day of The Hague Global Child Labour Conference. "To achieve long-term results for tomorrow's children, we must invest in creating new solutions today."

Ten years after the coming into force of the ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour (WFCL) - the most widely-ratified international labour convention - and just six years ahead of the global target of eliminating this problem, UNICEF has partnered with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the World Bank in this global gathering hosted by the Dutch Government from 10 to 11 May.

The conference (http://www.childlabourconference2010.com/) brings together 80 governments, UN agencies, multinational companies and NGO's to highlight the reality that child labour is significantly undermining progress towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.

The event will see the launch of two new reports, the ILO's new global estimates of child labour and, for the first time ever, a joint UNICEF, ILO and World Bank report setting out lessons learned, key policy responses and emerging issues such as migration, which affects millions of children each year whether they accompany migrating parents, are left behind, or migrate or are trafficked alone.

UNICEF estimates that 150 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are engaged in child labour worldwide, which is both a cause and consequence of poverty, and compromises children's education and safety.

"These children have become invisible; trapped in the worst forms of child labour and need urgent help," UNICEF said.

"Migrant children, orphans, trafficked children, and above all girls, are too frequently missing from current data sets and surveys which rely upon static household data. New methodologies and innovative data collection systems need to be developed to ensure that the violence and hazards faced by these invisible children become visible on policy agendas and are systemically addressed."

The food, fuel and economic crises that have shaken the global order have had irreversible impact upon children's lives.  Child labour - a key household buffer in some countries against economic shocks - has led to more children being propelled from school into the labour force earlier and in more hazardous areas than would normally occur.

Protecting children and young people from the adverse impacts of the multiple crises faced today will simultaneously address their vulnerability and benefit future social and economic development.

"There is a growing international consensus that an effective, coherent response to child labour requires a mix of decent work employment measures, child sensitive social protection systems and the extension of basic services to the most vulnerable," UNICEF stressed.

"Child labour must be addressed as part of a package that improves a child's overall life, as many children are forced into labour by poverty or the death of a family breadwinner".

At the conference, UNICEF will call upon governments and donors to increase investment in accessible, quality education, support the establishment of social protection measures, generate sustainable livelihoods for families and, above all, create the conditions for a protective environment that covers all children.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

For further information please contact:

Christiane Berthiaume, UNICEF Media, Geneva, + 41 22 909-5716, ceberthiaume@unicef.org

Rebecca Fordham, UNICEF Media, New York, + 1 212 326-7162, rfordham@unicef.org




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