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Friday, April 30, 1999 Published at 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK

World: South Asia

Pakistan child protection urged

The ILO is campaigning for an end to child labour

By Owen Bennett-Jones in Islamabad

The International Labour Organisation in Pakistan has called for a major national programme to eliminate child labour in the country.

Up until now, efforts to eliminate children working full time in Pakistan have concentrated on the soccer ball industry largely because donor governments have been willing to fund projects in the high profile export orientated industry.

The ILO says there have been positive results with many children who were once stitching footballs now going to school instead.

Manufacturers have also benefited because the use of older workers in regulated stitching centres has improved the quality of their product.

Millions of children work

Nevertheless, it is not yet possible to say that Pakistan's football stitching industry is child labour-free and millions of Pakistani children remain in work in other sectors.

[ image: Many have protested against child labour throughout South Asia]
Many have protested against child labour throughout South Asia
The Director of the ILO in Pakistan, Dani Appave, says the organisation is starting projects intended to eliminate child labour in a series of other sectors such as the manufacture of surgical instruments, carpet weaving and car repair workshops.

Child labour is an international phenomenon and 10 years ago the UN General Assembly approved the convention on the rights of the child which requires signatory governments to protect working children.

The ILO is now drafting a new convention specifically covering the worst forms of child labour such as slavery and prostitution.

It expects the new convention to be adopted by the International Labour Conference in June this year.

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