Sh9b for anti-child labour project

Apr 10, 2008

THE US department of labour has given Uganda $5.5m (about sh9b) to fight child labour in the north and Karamoja.

By Chris Ocowun

THE US department of labour has given Uganda $5.5m (about sh9b) to fight child labour in the north and Karamoja.

The US ambassador, Steven Browning, said this on Tuesday at the launch of a four-year project, ‘livelihood education and protection to end child labour’, at Bomah Hotel in Gulu.

A total of 16,000 children from Gulu, Kitgum, Lira, Pader and Moroto districts will benefit from the project to be implemented by AVSI Foundation and the International Rescue Committee.

“Through this programme, we have an opportunity to raise awareness about the difficult circumstances many Ugandan children go through,” Browning said.

He added: “Children in northern Uganda are vulnerable to exploitation due to years of conflict and displacement.
“The LRA abducted tens of thousands of children, forcing them to serve as child soldiers, porters and sex slaves.”

Browning noted that due to insecurity in Karamoja, children migrated to urban areas, where they are engaged in child labour and commercial sex.

“HIV/AIDS has orphaned many children and created child-headed households that have little hope of escaping poverty without education or vocational training,” he added. The labour state minister, Mwesigwa Rukutana, blamed child labour on poverty.

He said according to the national household survey of 2005/2006, there were 2.6m child labourers in the country.
The minister warned parents against engaging children in child labour.

“Many cases of child labour are a result of armed conflict. The Government is committed to ending worse forms of child labour.

“If you don’t take your child to school, we shall take you to jail and children who refuse to go to school will also be punished,” Mwesigwa said.

Gulu district chairman Norbert Mao said many Karimojong children were looking after cows instead of going to school.

Rescue committee head Shaun O’Donnell said they would provide primary, secondary and vocational education to the beneficiaries.

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