"We are losing ground in the fight to end child labour," UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore told reporters
The world has marked the first rise in child labour in two decades and the coronavirus crisis threatens to push millions of more youngsters toward the same fate, the United Nations said.
The International Labour Organization and the UN children's agency UNICEF said the number in child labour stood at 160 million at the start of 2020 -- an increase of 8.4 million in four years. Children aged between five and 11 accounted for over half of the global figure.
The increase began before the pandemic hit and marks a dramatic reversal of a downward trend that had seen child labour numbers shrink by 94 million between the year 2000 and 2016. Just as the Covid-19 crisis was beginning to pick up steam, nearly one in 10 children globally were stuck in child labour, with sub-Saharan Africa the worst affected. While the percentage of children in child labour remained the same as in 2016, population growth meant that the numbers rose significantly.