UNHCR Peshawar Violating UNICEF Charter By Employing Children

UNHCR Peshawar Violating UNICEF Charter By Employing Children

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) annihilated the charter of its sister organization United Nation International Children’s Emergency Funds (UNICEF) by employing children for labour at its sub-office at Naguman Nahqi area of Peshawar.


Rabbani khan, 13-years-old and resident of Daudzai Peshawar, works as a cleaner and tea-boy in the Cold Chain Warehouse set up by UNHCR sub-office in Naguman Nahqi area of Peshawar.

Rabbani was busy cleaning windowpane at the time of inauguration ceremony of the Cold Chain Warehouse on November 7. Speaking to Naya Daur, Rabani said he has been working in the sub-office of UNHCR at Naguman Nahqi since 2017.

He added that he had also worked as labor in the construction of sub-office building. “I am working in the warehouse for Rs500 a day,” he said, and added that he works from 08:00 am to 05:00 pm. He also told that he has been unable to continue his education because of his family’s poor economic condition.

Another 14-year-old boy Zahidullah was also seen painting and whitewashing the walls of the warehouse. Zahid told Naya Daur that he belongs to Daudzai area of Peshawar and has been employed in UNHCR sub-office for the last one year.

The employment of underage children at the sub-office of UNHCR goes to show that the renowned organization has been abrogating its own sister organization UNICEF’s charter, constitution article 11(3) of Pakistan and International Labour Organization (ILO) convention No. 138.

According to UNICEF charter a child who is involved in hazardous activities that may compromise his physical, mental, social and educational development would be considered child labour. The article 11(3) says that ‘no child below the age of 14 years shall be engaged in any factory or mine or any other hazardous employment.

ILO convention No.138 says that minimum age for employment is 15 years. Naya Daur spoke to social worker Imran Takar, who has been working against child labour for the last 15 years. He said that according to 1996 census 1.1 million children are forced to work as labourer in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP).

He said that the census excluded erstwhile FATA and Afghan refugees and those working in informal sectors such as agriculture and street child labours. He lamented that no census has been done after 1996.

Imran stated that 1.8 million children are out of the schools throughout the province which hints that the real number of children involved in labor.

He maintained that according to UNICEF census the number of children involved in labor in Pakistan was 20.5 million. The Public Relation Officer (PRO) of UNHCR sub-office Peshawar, Qaiser Khan Afridi said that he will investigate this matter and find out if these kids are the employees of UNHCR or provincial government.

The author is a Peshawar-based journalist and currently working as a reporter and editor with The Frontier Post. He can be reached at jamalsafi986@gmail.com