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Today on the occasion of 12 June – World Day against Child Labor, the Protector of Citizens, Mr. Zoran Pašalić, underscored that COVID-19 pandemic had significantly exacerbated the position of children victims of labor exploitation, in particular children living and working on the streets, and made them almost invisible to the competent bodies and the entire society.

“The children who are forced to work physically, primarily “street children” are exposed to multiple risks impacting their health and psycho-physical development. The pandemic increased those risks and put them in a situation where, depending on the epidemiological protection measures, they were almost invisible to the society in such a difficult situation", said Pašalić.

Pašalić has stated that the solution of the problems that children victims of labor exploitation face could be found in recognizing and rectifying the causes why the children were exposed to physical labor, in defining whether that occurs due to the poverty they live in, so they only make income or whether it is an issue of child abuse and human trafficking.

All competent bodies should be engaged in rooting out the causes, from the competent Ministry of Family Welfare and Demography, to the Ministry of the Interior, but also to the Social Welfare Centers, which should provide support to families to escape poverty or strengthen parental capacities, said Pašalić.

“Regarding child labor, one should not disregard the position of children in rural areas and the abuse of their work in agriculture, which is frequently thought of as a part of the traditional culture. All this is a consequence of ignorance and misunderstanding of the phenomenon, child exclusion and unavailability of services”, the Protector of Citizens believes.