Today, 12 June 2020, the Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) joins the global community to commemorate World Day Against Child Labour and is dismayed to note the increase in the prevalence of child labour in all Somali regions, delaying the physical, social, cognitive, moral and educational development of children.
As we commemorate World Day Against Child Labour, FESTU wishes to reaffirm the unwavering commitment of Somali trade unions to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (8) on jobs and economic growth, in particular target 8.7 which aims to eradicate all forms of child labour by 2025, and even more so in the context of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
The known fact is that Somali children are the most vulnerable in society. They feel the weight of poverty more than any other sector of society. The prevalence of child labour in almost all regions of Somalia is high and localized, and is a deliberate violation of national and international laws and standards regarding child labour.
This increasing occurrence of working children poses a serious threat to the future of Somali children and the overall development of the country as it continues to create a reservoir of children for easy recruitment for violent crimes, robbery and other forms of deviant behaviour.
In response to this growing incidence and concern about child labour in Somalia, FESTU, with technical assistance from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and support from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), developed a workers’ position paper highlighting unions’ determination to eliminate child labour in its worst forms.
FESTU is calling on all of its affiliates and all Somalis to stand up for children trapped in child labour and to end poverty once and for all. The existence of the worst forms of child labour deprives children of their childhood and their dignity and their right to physical and mental development, and those who perpetuate it must be brought to justice.
“Trade unions must be watchdogs, engage the federal government, federal member states and the owners of enterprises practicing child labour to take responsibility and help these children continue their education, as most cases are linked to poverty” said FESTU General Secretary Omar Faruk Osman.
In particular, FESTU urges the Federal Government of Somalia to develop a national policy on child labour that presents a coherent framework for multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary strategy against child labour aimed at eliminating hazardous and all forms of child labour in Somalia.
FESTU wishes to challenge the whole country to admit that children have rights and to urge everyone to recognize children’s voices in our lives and not to hold them back.
In the name of the working people of Somalia, the struggle against the eradication of child labour continues unabated.