Millions of Afghan children forced to work - survey

KABUL Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:23pm IST

A girl pushes a wheelbarrow in Kabul July 19, 2009. Almost 30 years of conflict have forced millions of Afghan children to go without education and work to help feed their families, U.N. and Afghan government figures released on Wednesday showed. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood/Files

A girl pushes a wheelbarrow in Kabul July 19, 2009. Almost 30 years of conflict have forced millions of Afghan children to go without education and work to help feed their families, U.N. and Afghan government figures released on Wednesday showed.

Credit: Reuters/Ahmad Masood/Files

Related Topics

KABUL (Reuters) - Almost 30 years of conflict have forced millions of Afghan children to go without education and work to help feed their families, U.N. and Afghan government figures released on Wednesday showed.

Of Afghanistan's 8.4 million children -- more than a third of the population of 28 million -- 1.2 million are the main breadwinners for their families and many more supplement family incomes, according to a survey conducted by the Afghan government, UNICEF and the independent Afghanistan Research And Evaluation Unit (AREU) from 2008 to 2009.

"There are some 6.5 million children at risk in Afghanistan who are deprived of education," Wasel Noor Momand, Afghanistan's deputy minister of public work and social affairs, told a news conference in Kabul.

"Child labour is one of the major issues in Afghanistan that we have to eliminate," he said.

Momand said poverty, poor security, lack of education and an influx of refugees returning to Afghanistan from neighbouring countries are the main factors that compel families to force their children to work.

The survey was conducted in three of Afghanistan's most populated provinces: Kabul, Badakhshan and Herat.

It showed children were employed in a range of light and heavy jobs from washing cars in the street to working in shops and restaurants as well as in mechanical workshops and factories.

About a quarter of child labourers are girls who usually work as housekeepers to support their families, the survey said.

Afghanistan is one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in the world. Most Afghans live on an estimated $2 a day and unemployment is at 40 percent.

Afghan employment law stipulates that children can work from the age of 15 but their working hours must not exceed 35 hours a week.

Momand said some children under 15 are employed in heavy labour for more than 40 hours a week.

AREU's Afghanistan director, Paula Kantor, said education and public awareness about children's rights play an important role in preventing families and communities from using their children in the workforce.

Security in Afghanistan has deteriorated since Taliban insurgents made a strong comeback in 2006, with attacks across the country making it difficult for many to work freely and even forcing some in remote areas to join the Taliban for income.

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

India-China Ties

Reuters Showcase

Trade Row

Trade Row

U.S. to press India on trade row during Modi's Washington visit.  Full Article 

Scotland Votes

Scotland Votes

Scots vote in independence referendum to seal the United Kingdom’s fate.  Full Article 

India's Mars Mission

India's Mars Mission

Mars mission enters last lap; crucial test on Sept. 24.  Full Article 

Separatists' Demand

Separatists' Demand

Scotland’s referendum stirs Kashmiri demands for vote on future.  Full Article 

Champions League

Champions League

Last-gasp Boateng goal hands Bayern win over City.  Full Article | Related Story 

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle

Amazon expands Kindle lineup, boosts price of basic e-reader.  Full Article 

Asian Games

Asian Games

Asian Olympic boss unsure why Saudi Arabia excluded women.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage