International Children’s Day: The UN Must Investigate and Stop Child Labor in Madagascar
November 20, 2019. Today on International Children’s Day, the International United Nations Watch (IUNW) calls on the UN to intervene and stop child labor in Madagascar in accordance with the UN 2030 Sustainability Agenda. Shocking reports of children working in harmful mica mines demand an immediate response by the international community. Furthermore, the UN must launch an independent investigation into the exploitative practice of running the mica mines using child laborers as well as into how the minerals extracted end up in international products.
A new report by Homme des Terres reveals that at least 10,000 children work in the mica sector and that they are forced to endure long hours of physically grueling labor . Conditions in the mica mines are deplorable and dangerous, seriously compromising the health and safety of the exploited children. The children, some as young as four years old, receive minimal food and are deprived of education. Many of the children, coming from deprived backgrounds, are forced to work in the mines because of their families’ desperate economic circumstances.
The local mica industry has done little to combat child labor, however, and has been subject to far too little regulatory scrutiny as the country grown in global importance. Therefore, it is up to the international community to step in and help eliminate child labor in Madagascar and to hold the mica industry accountable to an effective monitoring and regulatory system. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include target 8.7, which calls for a complete end to “child labor in all its forms” by 2025, equating it with modern slavery. In light of this, the UN has a special responsibility with regard to the children laboring in Madagascar’s mines and should take immediate action even while considering the circumstances surrounding this unconscionable exploitation.
In 2016, Madagascar became the world’s largest exporter of sheet mica, mica being a group of minerals used primarily in electronics and automotives. Of these, phlogopite mica is the most valuable. In Madagascar, mica is mined by hand and exported to China before ending up in the West. -- Just over 91% of the 46,000 tons of mica extracted in Madagascar in 2018 was exported to China. which may account for why Madagascan mine workers receive such low wages.