To commemorate the 2021 World Day against Child Labor, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of the Federal Republic of Somalia, the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) agreed to scale up efforts to end child labor 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 & 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 & South Sudan as well as special representative for AU & 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.