Written by By Gabrielle Hanseh, CNN
The European Aviation Safety Agency has announced it will prohibit the registration and flight use of modified aircraft by local airlines in six southern African nations that have been linked to child labor violations
The decision on Tuesday to suspend flights for the next six months was based on technical, legal and financial concerns about the vulnerability of children working on construction sites and in cocoa plantations
Specifically, this comes from a newly-released report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) on “travel abuse” at work sites, and relates to a project known as REDVUL: an acronym for workers Supporting Projects that Deliver Universal Access to Development.
According to the ILO, the practice dates back to the 1950s and 70s, when migrant laborers who crossed the Sahara into sub-Saharan Africa were forced to work on building sites or farm plantations; conditions were, in a word, horrific.
Then, the United Nations Development Programme was tasked to provide transport to such workers, and that became a key objective: Eliminating child labor was implemented with much success. But, “More recently, UNDP has often been the target of attack, and one way to do this has been to ban the transport of goods by air (so) no UNDP worker may travel with a payment or equipment,” according to the ILO.
The result is that child labor on these construction sites and farms continues, and to apply the UNDA’s Travel Abuse rules, which requires the protection of these workers, “is not just common sense but common sense that must be applied.”
This comes after an EU-funded project investigating child labor violations on cocoa farms in Ghana and Burkina Faso.
The project, carried out by German-based organization Greens-Junge Welt, identified 137 documented cases of child labor on the plantations and analyzed 268 reports of child labor violations on the cocoa farms by March 2018. The source of the problem was child labor at construction sites and cocoa-processing plants.
The report identifies “70%” of the child labor cases occurred on youth construction sites that were the responsibility of one or more local government departments responsible for youth employment.
This is an issue that “cannot be ignored anymore,” the EU Commission’s Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said in a statement. “It is also an issue of transparency and transparency is the only way to tackle this issue.”
The findings are published following similar reports by the European Commission about education conditions in Zambia, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, identifying at least 1.1 million children in these countries who are not in school and are in effect facing a de facto worldwide international education emergency.
If other places follow suit and restrict children from traveling on air routes, such as Morocco or the U.S., and subsequent sanctions against airlines, this would represent “a step toward achieving Zero Child Labor.”