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Saturday, May 30, 1998 Published at 20:13 GMT 21:13 UK

World: Europe

Children march on Geneva

Protesting child workers reach their final goal - and mount a display of products from their workshops

BBC correspondent Chris Rogers "The end of a long journey"
Hundreds of children from around the world have gathered in Geneva after a global march aimed at highlighting the exploitation of child workers.

Many of the demonstrators - child workers themselves - have travelled through several countries to stage the largest ever protest against the exploitation of children forced to work.

The march began in January in the Philippines and has attracted thousands of supporters at events in 97 countries.

The children's arrival in Geneva coincides with the opening of the International Labour Organisation's annual conference on Tuesday which will discuss a new convention on eliminating the worst forms of child labour.

[ image: There are 250 million child workers]
There are 250 million child workers
The ILO wants member states to agree to a new set of laws aimed to put an end to the worse forms of child labour that include bonded labour, slavery and prostitution.

It estimates that there are around 250 million child workers world-wide.

Around 60 countries have ratified conventions on the abolition of child labour.

Campaigners say the pace of reform is too slow and are calling for greater international pressure on governments which fail to act.

The organiser of the global march, Kailash Satyarthi, says governments have ignored the problem.

"There is a serious lack of political will right from the countries up to the international level and I feel that there is no adequate social awareness and consciousness about it, so it was necessary to mobilise the whole world against the menace of child labour," he said.

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