Migration of Child Labour

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Introduction
An estimated 214 million persons worldwide – or 3.1 percent of the world’s population - are international migrants.1 This figure is dwarfed by the number of internal migrants which UNDP estimates to be 740 million.2 Youth make up a disproportionate share of the world’s migrants; about a third of the migrant flow from all developing countries is in the age range of 12 to 24

Also, around the world an estimated 215 million boys and girls are engaged in child labour4 as defined in ILO Convention No. 1385 and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Migration can be an important determinant for child labour. The recently adopted Roadmap for Achieving the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour7 recognizes the need to address child vulnerabilities related to migration. In article 5 it states: ‘Governments should consider ways to address the potential vulnerability of children to, in particular the worst forms of child labour, in the context of migratory flows’.

Based on a desk review of literature and consultations with field staff, this working paper explores how migration - both internal and international – can affect children’s involvement in child labour. The paper focuses on voluntary migration, excludes child trafficking8 and distinguishes three categories as follows: 1) children who migrate with their parents (i.e. family migration), 2) independent child migrants, and 3) children left-behind by migrant parents. The link to child labour of each of these categories is explored below, followed by a series of strategic considerations for action. In reviewing evidence related to the three categories, both internal and international migration are covered interchangeably

Globally, 1 in 8 persons is a migrant. This includes an estimated 214 million international migrants and an estimated 740 million internal migrants. Youth account for a large share; about a third of the migrant flow from all developing countries is in the age range of 12 to 24. This includes millions of children under the age of 18 who migrate internally or across national borders, with or without their parents

In the coming years an unprecedented number of young people are expected to follow this massive exodus and shift population dynamics further, driven by demographic factors, economic disparity, violent conflict, state failure, natural disasters, and resource and environmental pressures, especially climate change

Though migration can be a positive experience for children and can provide them with a better life, increased opportunities and an escape from immediate threats such as forced marriage, conflict and natural disaster, child migrants can face serious challenges while migrating. These challenges are particularly serious when children migrate without proper documents and/or without their families, and in countries where legal protection is absent and where children are prevented from accessing basic services such as education and health care. In these situations, child migrants are at a high risk of exploitation and vulnerable to child labour. Many child migrants end up in agriculture or services such as domestic work. Some of them, but not all, are victims of trafficking

To address these challenges IPEC is integrating a migrant child perspective in its actions against child labour as follow

* An increasing number of projects include a focus on migrant children * Child labour research deals with migrant children
* Where possible, relevant advocacy tools, events and policy advise include attention to child migrants; and * IPEC collaborates with 15 international organizations and NGOs in the recently created Global Working Group on Children on the Move for a set of joint initiatives focusing on child migrants

IPEC collaborates with 15 international organizations and NGOs in the recently created Global Working Group on Children on the Move for a set of joint initiatives focusing on child...
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