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Cablegate: Afghanistan: Child Labor Report Points Delivered;

VZCZCXRO0888
PP RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHBUL #3076 2761211
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031211Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1807
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KABUL 003076

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AID ECON EIND ELAB ETRD PHUM PREL SOCI
SUBJECT: AFGHANISTAN: CHILD LABOR REPORT POINTS DELIVERED;
PROBLEMS MORE EXTENSIVE THAN REPORT IDENTIFIES

REF: STATE 92560

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Poloff delivered reftel points on the
Department of Labor (DOL),s Child Labor Report and "List of
Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor" to the
Afghanistan Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and
Disabled (MoL) Director of International Relations, Mr. Ahmad
Komail, on September 30 in accordance with DOL,s
instructions. Komail reported that the problems extend beyond
products in the marketplace to include child selling and
organized begging. He underscored the need for USG financial
assistance to support MoL,s efforts to address these
problems. End Summary.

2. (U) DOL,s report cites Afghanistan for three products for
which child and or forced labor is used: bricks, carpets, and
poppies. Komail appreciates USG attention to this problem,
but notes that more than three products are known for being
produced with child labor. Child labor is also used for most
agricultural products, and children are relied upon in the
bazaars for tasks from heavy lifting to cleaning machines and
selling goods. His office would be happy to share additional
information with us so that we may report fully the scope of
the problem. (NOTE: We will meet with the Ministry on October
15 to learn more details. END NOTE.)

3. (U) Komail noted that the first solution is to empower
families with improved income-generating activities. When
adult family members are underemployed they rely on their
children to assist in supporting the family; improving
adults, abilities to earn a family-wage is the best solution
to reducing child labor in Afghanistan. The second solution
is to provide students with real jobs skills for use later in
life. With Afghan Red Crescent, the ministry runs technical
training centers for children over age 14, teaching over 40
types of technical job skills.

4. (SBU) Komail said that a growing and largely unrecognized
problem in the country is the mafia groups who organize
professional begging rings of children; a different group
controls each area of Kabul city, and groups operate in every
city of the country. The children offer to wash vehicles
stopped in traffic, polish shoes, or clean the curbs in front
of businesses. Komail underscored the serious need for
assistance, as the number of street children vulnerable to
mafia control is growing; disabled children are also at risk.
Child-selling is yet another serious matter involving the
mafia. He said the mafia pays families up to $5,000 for each
child. He noted that a few days ago, Saudi Arabia deported 40
children to Afghanistan, 70 percent of whom were from Baghlan
province, who had possibly been sold to work as camel
jockeys. (NOTE: We are confirming the details of this
incident. End Note.)

5. (SBU) Komail says that his department receives neither
the funding or nor the support it requires from the Afghan
government; MOL has asked Parliament and the Council of
Ministers to provide both a normal budget and a development
budget, to no avail. He asserted that donor support is needed
from the USG and other governments. He notes that the
Japanese government provides some support to the Ministry,
but the Ministry lacks a proper budget to address the
problems in their scope and complexity.

6. (SBU) The Ministry's preferred solution is to increase the
number of orphanages in the country. (NOTE: UNICEF reports
that there are more than 50 state-run orphanages, but 80
percent of the children living in them are technically
non-orphans, children whose families cannot shelter, feed, or
educate them. Further, the ANP relies on orphanages as
default juvenile detention centers. End Note.) Komail
believes that orphanages with technical training components
could train offer job training to children over the age of
14.

7. (U) Komail offered assurances that he would review the DOL
report with care and offer additional information.
EIKENBERRY

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