June 12 marks World Day Against Child Labor but in Afghanistan officials from Save the Children said last year 200,000 child laborers returned with their families from Pakistan and Iran, which is of major concern.
They said this number has been added to the already two million working children in the country – all between the ages of eight and 14.
According to the Save the Children, 60 percent of poor families rely on their children to earn an income. Their average wage is between 50 and 100 AFs a day.
Save the Children warns if government does not take serious steps to help improve the livelihoods of Afghan families, especially those who are forced to send their children out to work, the number will increase unprecedentedly.
The organization said these children are not only subjected to mental, sexual and psychological harassment but most of them are also deprived of an education.
“Last year 600,000 refugee families returned from Pakistan and Iran of which 200,000 working children were among them. These children used to work on the streets of Iran and Pakistan.
“If the Afghan government and other responsible organizations do not pay attention to the child worker situation in the country, the number will increase,” spokesperson of the Save the Children, Mariam Attaie said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs says that the situation of children is improving.
“The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs has plans to address child labor problems,” Abdul Fatah Ahmadzai, spokesman of the ministry said.
One Afghan child, Bahram, who polishes peoples shoes on the streets of Kabul, says his family needs the money he earns.
“I have to work. I leave home at 8am and work until 12pm and earn 50 to 100 AFs (a day),” said Bahram.
Bahram’s family said they do not want him to work, but they have to send him out on to the streets to earn some money.
Shaheen, a friend of Bahram also works on the street.
“Work is better in Qala-e-Fathullah area than other places. People have become poor and my daily earnings is not good these days,” Shaheen said.