Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, ILO and UNICEF commit to ending child labour in Somalia

Joint press release by Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, ILO and UNICEF in Somalia

12 June 2021

Mogadishu, 12 June 2021To commemorate the 2021 World Day against Child Labour, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Federal Republic of Somalia, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) agreed to scale up efforts to end child labour in Somalia.

In 2019, Somalia made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor however; there is a long way to go to eliminate child labor from the country. “Many families are forced to send their children to work due to economic hardship and lack of decent employment opportunities for family-heads. Even more concerning, children who are recruited by militias or groups are forced into dangerous life-threatening roles such as soldier, cooks and cleaners. We need to act now and develop a National Child Labour Policy that will pave the way for the elimination of child labor,” said H.E Abdiwahab Ugas Khalif, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs for Somalia.

Even though there are different reasons behind child labour in Somalia, the government in close partnership with the international community is working hard to identify and eliminate child labour from Somalia. “ILO is currently supporting the Ministry to conduct a child labour assessment in Somalia in order to better understand the key drivers of this harmful practice which will then inform the development of a National Action Plan against Child Labour,” said H.E Alexio Musindo, ILO Director for Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan as well as special representative for AU and ECA.   

For children, having to work at a young age can have devastating and long-term impacts on their development, both mentally and physically as well as the country at large.  

“Children should be in a classroom and protected from child labour,” said Jesper Moller, Acting UNICEF Representative in Somalia. “If children have to work at a young age, they are missing out on an education, deprived of basic health care and can be exposed to dangerous work practices and environments, especially those recruited into armed forces and groups.”  

Ending child labour can only happen through a collective systematic approach with a strong understanding of the root causes and a legal framework that prohibits children from entering the work force at an early age.  Legislation must also address the worst form of child labour – forced recruitment into armed forces or groups.

Press release in Somali [PDF]

Media contacts

Eva Hinds
Communication Manager
UNICEF Somalia
Girma Eshetu
Senior Communications & Information Assistant
ILO Ethiopia


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

UNICEF has been working in Somalia since 1972 when its first office opened in Mogadishu. Today UNICEF has over 300 staff working in Mogadishu, Baidoa, Dollow, Garowe, Hargeisa and also Nairobi, Kenya. Together with 200 international and national NGOs and community-based organizations, UNICEF delivers services in Health, Nutrition, WASH, Education and Child Protection, and responds to emergencies and supports peace-building and development.

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