Campaign launched against child labour in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq

“Children need to go to school and their rights must be protected.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Young children at a school in Sulaimani took part in awareness raising activities promoting education and highlighting the dangers of child labour in the Kurdistan Region, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said in a press release on Tuesday.

T-shirts, hats, balloons and leaflets were distributed among the young school children with the slogan “No to Child Labour” to encourage them to better understand the dangers of child labour and the importance of staying in school.

According to ILO, child labour has been on the rise in Iraq in recent years due to a combination of factors including armed conflict, displacement and economic challenges.

“The risk of children entering the workforce has been further compounded by COVID-19, which has forced a growing number of children to drop out of school,” the organization said.

The school, includes pupils who were pulled out of child labor and brought back to school.

Najat, the school’s principle, told the ILO that the main reason for child labor is financial difficulties that force some poor children to drop out of school to make a living for their families.

“But in order for these children not to miss out on their rights to an education, we, along with social workers and teachers, go to their homes and try to bring them back to the classroom, because children need to go to school and their rights must be protected,” Najat said.

The event at these schools is part of a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of child labor led by the ILO in cooperation with the Kurdistan Region’s ministries of Labour and Social Affairs, as well as other national and social partners in Iraq.

The plan is to hold the campaign in major cities across Iraq, including Baghdad, Basra, Diyala, Dohuk, Kirkuk, al Najaf and Ninewa.

The campaign is targeting more than 10,000 children, their families and guardians, teachers, employers, and the media through a series of activities, ILO said.

The campaign also include sessions for local journalists on labor standards related to child labor and the role the media can play in shedding light on the plight of working children.

“Child labour is a longstanding issue in Iraq, with poverty as the main reason but also security and displacement,” Dr. Maha Kattaa, ILO Country Coordinator in Iraq, told Kurdistan 24. “The COVID-19 pandemic and consequent school closures have added yet more pressure on children and their families, increasing the risks of more children being forced into child labour, including its worst forms. “ 

“At the ILO, we are working closely with all our partners, namely the government and social partners to address these issues through various efforts,” she said.

“This campaign aims to raise awareness on the increasing dangers of child labour, and mobilize efforts to reach communities most impacted by the rise of child labour in the country.”