A million children work in mines, says ILO

Himalayan News Service

New Delhi, June 11:

The large number of children working in mines, including in India, will be the focus of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as it marks World Day Against Child Labour Sunday.

The ILO estimates that there are about one million children, aged 5 to 17, working in informal mines and quarries throughout the world. Child miners often go underground to dig for valuable minerals, such as gold or silver. Some perform hazardous work outside the mines. Many work in open pits or riverbeds. “Virtually all of these children work in small-scale, artisanal mines and quarries that usually are in remote areas and beyond the scope of regulation. Typically, these are family-based operations that lack mechanisation and proper tools and safety measures to protect workers,” said ILO in a statement. “Removing more than one million children working in mines and quarries will be the focus of events around the world, marking the World Day Against Child Labour,” said ILO. ILO pilot projects have demonstrated that it is possible to eliminate child labour in mining and quarrying through various interventions.

In 1999, Markapur, in Prakasham District of Andhra Pradesh, had 4,584 children involved in slate mining and related activities. In the last five years, an ILO project, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has helped to reduce the number of Markapur children working in mines to 242. So far out of the 40 villages involved, 22 have been declared free of child labour. “The Markapur Model reiterates that elimination of child labour from small scale mines and quarries is an achievable goal,” said ILO. The model developed and tested successfully at Markapur will be presented at a special event Sunday to commemorate the fourth World Day Against Child Labour. ILO’s INDUS (India-US) Child Labour Project in collaboration with KRI Foundation, a Delhi-based NGO, has organised theatre performances where street children and child labourers, involved with a local theatre group, would stage innovative and interactive performances here. Aimed at increasing the awareness levels of children, parents and the community in which they live, the performance would be held at various places in the capital like Dilli Haat, India Gate, India Habitat Centre, and wholesale market areas and slums, where child labour is prevalent. The repeat performances would be held in government schools and identified public schools. In addition, ILO’s INDUS Child Labour Project will be undertaking a series of activities from coming Sunday

to mark the occasion at various project locations in Indian states like Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.