Manila: More children are doing harsh and dangerous work in Philippine villages hit by Typhoon Haiyan last November, the United Nation’s labour agency said on Wednesday.
The International Labour Organisation said a joint assessment made in March and April by the UN and other humanitarian organisations and Philippine authorities showed 54 per cent of 112 surveyed villages reported that children were involved in harsh and dangerous labour, with 39 per cent of them saying the number of such children increased after the typhoon struck.
The typhoon killed more than 6,300 people and displaced 4 million others, worsening poverty in the central Philippines.
The villages and 125 schools surveyed were randomly selected from two central regions most affected by Haiyan, with individuals interviewed from each village or school.
Giovanni Soledad of the ILO’s child labour programme said it was not clear how many more children started working in dangerous conditions after the typhoon. He said further assessments will be done to find out where the children are so services can reach them.
But government data prior to the typhoon showed as of 2011 that there were 1.6 million child workers aged 5 to 17 in the two regions covered by the assessment. Of that number, more than 450,000 were engaged in hazardous work.
The joint assessment said 82 per cent of villages reported that the children had volunteered to do harsh work to support themselves or their families. Many work in farms and as household workers. Others are vendors, construction workers, fishermen, scrap collectors or pedicab drivers.
The 2011 data showed that nationally, 5.4 million out of 29 million Filipino children aged 5 to 17 were working. About 3 million of them were counted as child labourers — defined as too young to work or in jobs too harmful for their wellbeing — while the rest were doing permissible work. Ninety-nine per cent of those classified as child labourers were engaged in hazardous jobs.
Thousands of children, their families, government workers and humanitarian workers are expected to march against child labour on Thursday to mark World Day against Child Labour. The march is to take place in central Tacloban City, where Haiyan’s ferocious winds and tsunami-like storm surge flattened villages.