World Day Against Child Labour 2020: Viet Nam joins global campaign to confront intensified risk of child labour resulting from COVID-19

12 June 2020
World Day Against Child Labour 2020: Viet Nam joins global campaign to confront intensified risk of child labour resulting from COVID-19
UNICEF Viet Nam\Pham Phuong Anh

HA NOI, 12 June 2020 – Children need to be protected from child labour more than ever due to the devasting impacts of COVID-19 crisis. This message has been highlighted today in a virtual interactive panel discussion by the International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Ministry of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs (MOLISA). Held in Hanoi, the event adds a voice to the global call for action on the World Day Against Child Labour.

A new ILO-UNICEF brief indicates that the crisis could lead to the first recorded rise in child labour after 20 years of progress. According to the paper: “COVID-19 and child labour: A time of crisis, a time to act”, child labour decreased by 94 million since 2000, but that gain is now at risk.

In Viet Nam, the ILO estimated in April that between 4.6 and 10.3 million workers may be affected by the pandemic. Of concern to UNICEF is increasing evidence that many children did not return to school when they reopened in May of this year. An estimated over one million children between 5-17 years old are already engaged in child labour in Viet Nam, more than half of them are in hazardous work. As the pandemic wreaks havoc on family incomes, these children are now at even greater risk of working longer hours or under worsening conditions.

“Immediate actions must be taken to protect children from child labour and to uphold national efforts to prevent and eliminate child labour,” said ILO Viet Nam Country Director, Chang-Hee Lee. “Social protection plays a significant role in times of crisis as it provides assistance to the most vulnerable.”

The joint ILO-UNICEF paper cites a combination of factors that can contribute to child labour. Vulnerable population groups, such as those in the informal economy and migrant workers, will suffer the most from economic downturn, increased informality and unemployment, the general fall in living standards, health shocks and insufficient social protection systems.

According to the brief, COVID-19 could result in a rise in poverty and therefore to an increase in child labour as households use every available means to survive. Some studies show that a one percentage point rise in poverty leads to at least a 0.7 per cent increase in child labour in certain countries.  

“Children who are trapped in child labour, are deprived of a childhood, their health is at risk, their opportunity to escape poverty is lost and their explosure to other child protection risks increases.  In dropping out of school, they are embracing a small payment today but risking lifelong poverty. I know from speaking with schools, particularly in rural areas, that some children have simply not returned. Those children are aged just nine or ten years and they are now working full time. This is hazardous, and it makes them more vulnerable to other protection concerns, including trafficking. UNICEF believes that effective action against child labour in the current context requires that children in the poorest families be placed at the centre of the COVID-19 Social Protection response, and that their protection be prioritized by local authorites who need to actively trace and get them back to school”, said Rana Flowers, UNICEF Representative.

A rapid assessment on the impacts of COVID-19 on child labour is being carried out nation-wide with support from the ILO, which will inform the upcoming National Plan of Action to prevent and reduce child labour for the 2021-25 period.

Significant progress has been achieved in the fight against child labour over the years. However, much needs to be done to achieve Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7 to eliminate child labour by 2025.

“The impacts of COVID-19 on child protection and child labour will be assessed by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and other concerned Ministries. This assessment will help us to develop the next Plan of Action and a roadmap to reduce child labour by 2025 and forced labour by 2030. I hope we can take steps to work together, especially during the International Year on the Elimination of Child Labour, in order to reduce the obstacles created by the COVID-19 pandemic. By doing so all countries can move towards the achievement of Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” said Dang Hoa Nam, Director of the Department of Children’s Affairs at MOLISA.

The virtual interactive panel discussion is livestreamed on ILO Viet Nam’s, UNICEF Viet Nam’s and MOLISA’S For the Children TV Programme Facebook fan page, at 9am on Friday, 12 June 2020, from the Green One UN House in Ha Noi with the participation of from Department of Children’s Affairs, the ILO and the UNICEF.

Video stories about child labour:

For more information, please contact:

  • Tran Quynh Hoa, ILO Viet Nam, +84-24-38506127; email: hoahancom@ilo.org
  • Louis Vigneault-Dubois, UNICEF Việt Nam, +84-24-38500241; +84-966539673; email: lvigneault@unicef.org
  • Nguyễn Thị Thanh Hương, UNICEF Việt Nam, 84-24-38500225; +84-904154678; email: ntthuong@unicef.org
  • Nguyễn Thị Kim Hoa, MOLISA’S Department of Children’s Affairs;  + 84-912312548; email: kimhoacpfc35@yahoo.com

Media Contacts

Mr Louis Vigneault-Dubois
Chief of Communication and Advocacy
UNICEF Viet Nam
Tel: +84 (024) 3850 0100
Tel: +84 (0)96 6539 673
Ms Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong
Advocacy and Communications Specialist
UNICEF Viet Nam
Tel: +84 (024) 38500225
Tel: +84 (0)904154678

About UNICEF

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. For more information about COVID-19, visit https://www.unicef.org/vietnam/covid-19

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit https://www.unicef.org/vietnam

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