The operation comes follows a visible rise in the children involved in selling edibles within the city centre. Children as young as five years have been seen wandering across the streets of Arua with baskets containing foodstuffs, eggs, vegetables and fruits, polyethene bags, and facemasks.
Police in Arua has launched
an operation to arrest and prosecute parents who subject their children to child
labour. The operation follows a visible rise in the children involved in selling
edibles within the city centre.
Ugandan law prohibits the employment of children aged under 12 and stipulates that the involvement of children in any
employment should be limited to light work carried out under the supervision of an
adult aged above 18. But children as young as five years have been seen wandering across the
streets of Arua with baskets containing foodstuffs, eggs, vegetables
and fruits, polythene
bags, and face masks.
Jimmy Anguyo, the Child and
Family Protection Unit head at Arua Central Police Station (CPS) notes that
the practice is a violation of the
fundamental rights of the children. According to Anguyo, they will not hesitate to arrest
any parents who subject children to any kind of work which is above their capacities.
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Child rights activists say that child labour denies the youngsters fundamental human rights such as the
right to education, the right to rest and leisure and freedom from the country’s
unfair working conditions.
Resident City Commissioner Alice Akello notes that children, especially girls who are engaged in hawking, have ended up being abused on the streets by other people, adding that they are going to hunt for the parents of the children and take them to courts
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Emily Drijaru, the Executive Director of Integrated Child Services Consults, a non-governmental organization
in Arua City, says the situation of child labour was worsened by
the closure of schools during the recent COVID-19 Pandemic. She, however, observes a need for an urgent intervention to stop the practice to save many children from
dropping out of school.
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According to a report released in
June 2020 by the Community Empowerment For Rural Development (CEFORD), a
non-governmental organization operating in West Nile, Child labour is a major
challenge, especially in the districts of Nebbi, Zombo and Arua.
The report further indicates that
many children in the affected areas are heavily engaged in farming activities
like coffee and tea planting, weeding and harvesting, while many others are
engaged in alcohol brewing, especially the girl child.
In Uganda, 28 per cent of children
are engaged in some form of child labour, according to the Uganda National
Household Survey 2019/2020.