from ALEXIS DOUMBIA in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
ABIDJAN, (CAJ News) – IVORY Coast is experiencing a surge in child labour as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) scourge and resultant lockdown.
Children’s rights groups decried the trend, which reverses the progress made over the last 20 years to fight such illegal employment in the West African country.
“The COVID-19 pandemic poses very real risks of backtracking,” said Benoit Piot, SOS Children’s Villages International Director for West, North and Central Africa, lamented.
He was echoing concerns raised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“The pandemic has laid bare are the challenges we face in protecting and promoting the well-being of the most vulnerable children and young people,” Piot added.
Officials lamented that with schools closed due to the lockdown, some parents were sending their children out to find day work to help support their families.
“While it remains somewhat unspoken, for many families child labour is a coping mechanism in times of crisis,” SOS’s Mamadou Diakite, said.
Diakate heads the SOS family strengthening programme in Yamoussoukro, the administrative capital of the West African country.
Ivory Coast has, as of this past weekend, confirmed 10 462 cases of COVID-19.
The first case was documented in the economic capital, Abidjan, on March 11.
President Alassane Dramane Ouattara’s government has delayed the national census because of the pandemic.
The current population is estimated at over 25 million people.
– CAJ News