Catastrophic Impact of COVID-19 On Child Labour in Afghanistan

By Abubakr Yosufi

Decades of war and insecurity, have increased poverty all over Afghanistan. One of the consequences of this overwhelming poverty is the rising number of cases of child labour. After Talibans were defeated, a new government was formed with high hopes & aspirations of the people of the country. Many countries came together and voluntarily helped and supported the afghans and fought valiantly against the child labour that grabs the most of the country, since it’s not safe for children and still remains one the biggest obstacles toward their education as well.

As the result of decades of efforts and collaborations, the number has significantly decreased in a period of 20 years. However, with the uprise of COVID-19, these achievements are now at high risk of abandonment.

For a country like Afghanistan, that has faced decades of war and conflict, still continues to fight on a daily basis, due to which large sections of their population now depend on casual labour and jobs such as working on streets and shops and even selling food roadside. Despite working hard, the income of an average household is lesser than their daily needs. In addition, these jobs technically make their income highly vulnerable to lockdowns and social distancing measures. Hence, the majority of families have no capacity to endorse the economic shock of COVID-19

As the result of this pandemic, many lost their livelihoods due to which poverty did rise vastly at an alarming rate. Pandemic has also caused an increase in the prices of basic necessities that has made the burden even heavier.

In such situations, child workers are now accounted as key sources of income for many families. Even long before the pandemic, young children supported their families to gather basic wage. According to UNICEF, there are more than 60,000 child labourers on the streets of Kabul, alone.

Children in Afghanistan hence can be hired in fields that are appropriate for their age under healthy and safe conditions which can be beneficial to their development.

Unfortunately most of these ‘beneficial works’ prevent them from undertaking their education but also expose them to a hazardous environment that might lead to the development of different kinds of harmful diseases in them such as neuralgia, psychological strain, respiratory diseases and even injuries that might result in inabilities and ultimately death. Some children are also exposed to malpractices most prominent being child abuse.

Overall, the work conditions are worsening due to the high rise of the pandemic which poses a great threat for the children of Afghanistan & are highly deplorable.
Therefore, it’s the need of the hour to introduce certain rules & measures to reduce the sufferings of these younglings such that they could work towards their future & the efforts to reduce child labour before the pandemic hit could not go in vain!