A WORLD VISION programme set up to abolish child slavery in Ethiopia, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo is to receive £12.4 million in funding from the UK aid budget over four years, it has been announced.
The programme, launched on the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, last Friday, is aimed at supporting and bringing justice to 12,000 children suffering from the “worst forms of child labour” across the three African counties.
The worst cases — classed as modern slavery — include when children are sold, trafficked, in debt bondage, serfdom, or forced labour, or forcibly recruited into armed conflict, used in prostitution or pornography, or engaged in hazardous work.
The programme will support a rehabilitation scheme for children rescued from child labour; offer alternative “appropriate, safe, sustainable” employment for families; and work with businesses to eradicate child labour from the supply chains. It will also establish a mentoring scheme for 13,000 lawyers, policymakers, and other government officials. This is designed to raise awareness of child abuse and expertise in combating perpetrators at a national level.
There are reportedly more than 40 million victims of modern slavery worldwide, of whom a quarter are children. “This is nothing short of a global tragedy,” the Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt, said at the launch. “Child labour and trafficking is a shameful stain on our global conscience, and together we must stamp it out for good.”
The programme is being established in partnership with two international aid agencies: World Vision, and War Child. The chief executive of World Vision UK, Tim Pilkington, said that the programme would change the future of “emotionally and psychologically shattered” children, worldwide.
“Children as young as five are [being] coerced into working long hours on back-breaking tasks. They are forcibly recruited into armed conflict, used in prostitution or pornography, trafficked, or engaged in dangerous manual work like mining. Many children are also physically and sexually abused.”
The chief executive of War Child UK, Rob Williams, said that organisations had a responsibility to listen to children who had suffered. “No one knows better about what affects them most than they do. After this, our most important job is to listen; only then can we deliver the change that is required.”
The Thomson Reuters Foundation has also promised to “shed light” on the issue of child labour through its journalists and pro bono legal network TrustLaw. “We all have the responsibility to fight this crime — the worst of all human crimes,” the chief executive of Reuters, Monique Villa, said.