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Statement on the occasion of World Day Against Child Labour

12 June 2018

This year’s World Day Against Child Labour is an opportune moment to take action to better protect children in a migration context from involvement in child labour, the worst forms of child labour and child trafficking. This can and should be done at all levels, from supporting implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees, to ensuring child-sensitive responses by local service providers in the field that prioritise the best interests of every child, regardless of their migration status.

At the IV Global Conference on the Sustained Eradication of Child Labour, held in Buenos Aires in November 2017, ICMPD pledged to produce robust, policy-orientated research and evidence-based recommendations on child labour, forced labour and child trafficking - particularly in relation to the vulnerabilities of migrant children, children on the move, and children affected by armed conflict and forced displacement; and to carry out actions to reduce children’s vulnerabilities through a gender-sensitive, multi-disciplinary approach guided by normative frameworks.

We use the opportunity of World Day Against Child Labour to launch our new research assessment Trafficking along Migration Routes to Europe: Bridging the Gap between Migration, Asylum and Anti-Trafficking and to draw attention to the research findings on risks of trafficking and the anti-trafficking response, particularly the risks and vulnerabilities for children travelling in mixed migration flows and the child protection and anti-trafficking response. The research was conducted as part of the EU-funded TRAM project (Trafficking along Migration Routes (TRAM): Identification and Integration of Victims of Trafficking among Vulnerable Groups and Unaccompanied Children) and has a specific focus on the situation of unaccompanied and separated children.

Children travelling along migration routes to the EU, whether accompanied or unaccompanied, face both contextual and individual risk factors that contribute to their vulnerability to trafficking, exploitation and other abuses. These risk factors include restrictive migration policies, irregular legal status and travelling unaccompanied or separated from parents or legal guardians. Compounding these issues, the response from government authorities and other service providers often fails to attenuate these risks or may even exacerbate them. For example, unaccompanied or separated children may not be provided with adequate care and placement, the appointing of a guardian may be delayed or appointed guardians may lack sufficient capacity to care for children.

Cases of exploitation of children in the context of the Balkan Route and in the EU may go unidentified due to a knowledge gap among front-line responders on specific forms of exploitation affecting children – such as exploitative begging, forced marriage and forms of forced criminality, including children engaged in drug dealing and providing low-level migrant smuggling services.


More information on Trafficking along Migration Routes: 

Briefing paper

Full report

More information: 

TRAM project

World Day Against Child Labour

IV Conference for the Sustained Eradication of Child Labour



“Children’s or adolescents’ participation in work that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling, is generally regarded as being something positive. This includes activities such as helping their parents around the home, assisting in a family business or earning pocket money outside school hours and during school holidays. These kinds of activities contribute to children’s development and to the welfare of their families; they provide them with skills and experience, and help to prepare them to be productive members of society during their adult life.

The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. 

It refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and interferes with their schooling by: depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school prematurely; or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work. […]

Whether or not particular forms of “work” can be called “child labour” depends on the child’s age, the type and hours of work performed, the conditions under which it is performed and the objectives pursued by individual countries. The answer varies from country to country, as well as among sectors within countries.”

Source: “What is Child Labour?”