Global Press Journal – Despite the immense mineral wealth in DRC, people here live in endemic poverty. In Rubaya, a powerful evidence of that poverty is the large number of young children who have dropped out of school or who have fended for themselves from an early age.
A 2009 law prohibits all forms of economic exploitation of any person under 18 years of age, and some of the larger mines have removed children from their sites to comply with that law, even as they declined to confirm there were children working at the sites.
In addition to the DRC’s law, the International Labour Organization states that mining is one of the worst forms of child labor, calling it a “work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.”
Still, there are 168 million children worldwide trapped in child labor. According to the ILO’S World Report on Child Labor 2015, since 2011, DRC is one of the 108 countries in the world and 28 countries in Africa in which children work in hazardous jobs.
Artisanal mining, also known as small-scale or subsistence mining, is unregulated in many countries, including DRC. Of the up to 2 million people in DRC estimated to engage in artisanal mining, some 40 percent are said to be children.
“It’s not a secret that some owners of mining sites choose to have cheap labor, which is the main reason for the presence and work of children in mines in DRC,” said Janvier Murairi Bakihanaye, president of Association pour le Developpement des Initiatives Paysannes (ASSODIP) and one of DRC’s leading human rights researchers.
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