Global commitment to end child labor is sorely needed, as experts warn the Covid-19 pandemic could reverse decades of progress. Widespread school closures and the economic hardships families are facing mean more children are at risk of missing out on education and getting involved in dangerous work. In May, UNICEF and Save the Children reported that without urgent action 672 million children could be living in poverty by the end of 2020, an increase of 15 percent in one year.
I’ve spoken to many children involved in hazardous child labor. Children in the Philippines relayed stories of diving into cold, deep, waters to mine for gold, breathing through an oxygen tube clenched between their teeth, and using toxic mercury to process gold they found.