Saturday November 26, 2022

Hari Welfare Association demands steps be taken to stop forced labour in post-flood situation

By Our Correspondent
September 26, 2022

The Hari Welfare Association (HWA) has said that millions of peasants, agricultural labourers and women of Sindh have been severely affected due to the ravages of torrential rains with their houses collapsed, livestock dead, and crops of cotton and sugarcane destroyed.

In a statement issued recently, HWA President Akram Khaskheli said that due to the recent rains, there had been massive destruction in Sindh, in which millions of people had been displaced, and millions of acres of agricultural land inundated by flooding, after which many people were lying helpless on roads without food and water.

He added that children, women and elderly among the flood victims were suffering from various communicable diseases such as dengue, and malaria due to stagnant rainwater. The HWA president said the government had provided food to some extent to such people but it was also delivered on a political basis.

A recent report released by Provincial Disaster Management Authority Sindh had stated that around 11 million people were affected in Sindh, but the ground reality was different and the actual number of such people was more than 15 million, including more than 10 million farmers, agricultural labourers, and daily wagers, Khaskheli said, adding that more than five million acres of cultivated land had been destroyed.

He expressed apprehension that the current situation would lead to forced labour and child labour. It had been estimated that more than 10 million children would be out of school, he added.

He said that strict measures should be taken to prevent forced labour by activating the vigilance committees formed in every district under the Sindh Bonded Labour System Abolition Act 2015, and under the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2018.

The Sindh Child Protection Authority and National Commission on the Rights of Child must play role and push the government to make a concrete policy to take the out-of-school children into schools, he said.

He added that more than 75 per cent of Pakistan's cotton and textile exports were made to Europe, due of which the European Union had given Pakistan the status of GSP Plus. He asked the European Union to bind the government of Pakistan to rehabilitate the cotton harvesting peasants.

The HWA said that the International Labour Organisation should also ask the government to implement of ILO conventions regarding decent work and bonded labour. The association also demanded that the government distribute land among farmers so that the landless farmers could get out of poverty and forced labour. Farmers should be registered with social security institutions and allowed to form their own unions, the association said..