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Cambodia Seeks End to Child Labor

Poor families in poor health, the loss of land and the legacy of war are all contributing to a child labor problem in Cambodia, the country’s national International Labor Organization coordinator said Monday.

“The latest studies we have show that in many countries, if there exists child labor, that country is in heavy poverty,” said the coordinator, Chhorvirith Theng, as a guest on “Hello VOA.” “In a country where educational development exists, that country has no child labor. So on both these tendencies, the government of Cambodia is paying attention. For instance, we take education as a core sector.”

The government and private sector are working to jointly eliminate child labor in Cambodia by 2015, Chhorvirith Theng said, through plans to educate people at the grassroots level, as well as vocational and skills training and microfinance.

A national survey in 2001 found 1.5 million children aged 5 to 17 who were economically active in Cambodia. Around 250,000 were working in risky occupations.

Child labor is not only a problem in Cambodia, but around the world, Chhorvirith Theng said. The ILO estimates as many as 250 million children involved in labor, with the majority involved in dangerous jobs that can be damaging physically, mentally and spiritually.