Mr Kizito Ballance, Chief Director at the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, has expressed fears that the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its attendant impacts on family incomes could undermine efforts and gains made in eradicating child labour.
According to him, the COVID 19 pandemic had wreaked havoc on households and made children susceptible to many risk factors of abuse which required urgent attention.
In a speech read on his behalf at a ceremony to commemorate this year’s International Day Against Child Labour in Cape Coast, Mr Ballance said strategic measures must be put in place to tackle specific underlying conditions that might push children into child labour in the period of COVID-19 and beyond.
The event was held on the theme, “COVID-19: Protect Children from Child Labour, Now More than ever.”
It was organised by Hen Mpoano, the Central and Western Fishmongers Improvement Association (CEWEFIA) and Challenging Heights, the implementing partners of the Securing Child Rights in the Fisheries Sector (SECRIFISE) Project.
The SECRIFISE Project is being carried out in the Central Region and along the Volta Lake with funding from the European Union (EU).
The three-year Project is aimed at securing child rights in the fisheries sector by galvanizing public support to eliminate child labour and trafficking (CLaT).
It also seeks to implement community-based initiatives for integrating victims in mainstream society.
Mr Ballance said the COVID-19 situation could have dire socio-economic and psychological impact on children.
For instance, he posited that the vulnerability and inability of individuals and households to cater for their families this crucial period due to collapse of businesses and job losses, could compel children to engage in child labour to support their families.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) had projected that between 42 to 66 million children were likely to be pushed into extreme poverty in 2020 in addition to the estimated 386 million children already in extreme poverty in 2019.
This, Mr Ballance, feared could increase significantly if all did not get involved in the coordinating efforts to fight the situation.
“The continuous stay of children at home could further expose them to all kinds of abuses, particularly girls, who may be burdened with domestic chores and may be predisposed to sexual abuses,” he added.
Mr Ballance rallied the support of all stakeholders and partners for the implementation of the National plan of Action (NPA2) for the Elimination of the Worst Form of Child Labour in Ghana.
He mentioned some of the efforts by the Government to end child labour as the launching of protocols and guidelines for establishing child labour free zones in Ghana.
This, he said, was to strengthen efforts to uphold the constitutional provision on the fundamental rights of children to be protected from work that constituted a threat to health, education and total development.
It as well encouraged stakeholders to consciously commit resources and own child labour eradication efforts.
Mr Daniel Wallace Akeampong, Head of Central Regional Child Rights Promotion and Protection Department of the Social Welfare admonished parents and communities to help create better future for children.
Mr Martin Datsomor, Acting Regional Director of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), urged all to protect the rights of children and to help protect them from abuse.