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Child Labor to Surge in Vietnam Due to Climate Change: Experts

As climate change wreaks havoc on Vietnam, more children will be forced to work from an early age, experts say.

Vietnamese authorities and the International Labor Organization (ILO) held a conference earlier this week in Hanoi to discuss policy prescriptions against the impacts of climate change on children, reports VnExpress.

Situated in the tropical typhoon belt, Vietnam has been identified as one of the five countries most vulnerable to climate change. Last year alone, according to VnExpress, the country was struck by a total of 20 catastrophes, including droughts, flooding, typhoons and salinization.

The effects of climate change will be particularly taxing on Vietnam’s agricultural sector, which employs over 40% of the country’s workforce and accounts for 18.8% of total GDP, according to the most recent statistics available from the World Bank. Furthermore, while Vietnam is now classified as a middle-income country, 66% Vietnamese still reside in rural areas, of which 18.6% live below poverty rate.

In this context, experts at the conference emphasized that children would be most at-risk under more volatile climate conditions.

"Natural disasters have a direct impact on children's survivability, physical health and mental well-being. In addition, poverty can force children to leave school and partake in economic activities to relieve the financial burdens their families may face," Nguyen Trong Dam, Deputy Minister of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, told the conference in Vietnamese, according to Thanh Nien.

Jesper Mollen, vice representative of UNICEF in Vietnam, concurred, adding that there is a tendency for child labor to increase after a disaster strikes, especially in impoverished communities, the news source shares.

Chang Hee Lee, director of ILO Vietnam, further argued that eliminating child labor would improve Vietnam’s long-term prospect of socio-economic development while ensuring a bright future for Vietnamese youth. “Solutions should be directed at identifying particular issues and child labor,” he urged, recommending that Vietnam address the issue with financial aid, education and community support groups.

Roughly 1.75 million Vietnamese children between the age of five and 17 are involved in heavy labor, according to 2016 statistics from the Bureau of Children in 2016, reports Phu Nu Online. Specifically, 67% work in the agricultural sector, 16% in construction jobs and 17% in the service industry.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc issued a nationwide action plan on this topic last month, with an aim to end all forms of child labor by 2025, according to Nhan Dan.

[Photo via emaze]

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