A four-year programme has been launched with the aim of eradicating child slavery across Ethiopia, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The launch of the programme coincides with the International Day of the Abolition of Slavery on Sunday.
The programme is being funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) and overseen by international aid agency World Vision UK.
In addition to partnering with NGOs, the programme will work with corporations and law enforcement towards the ambitious goal of saving over 12,000 children enslaved in abusive conditions across Ethiopia, CAR and the DRC.
World Vision UK will be partnering with War Child UK, Thomson Reuters Foundation and Columbia University.
As part of the programme, a mentoring scheme will be run for local lawyers and policy makers to help bring perpetrators to justice, while a reintegration scheme will offer support to children rescued from child labour. The programme will also engage with businesses owners to eradicate child labour from supply chains.
Penny Mordaunt, Secretary of State for International Development, said it was a ‘global tragedy’ that there are still over 40 million victims of slavery in the world today.
‘Partnering with World Vision and War Child, the UK is prioritising the protection of children from the worst forms of child labour and trafficking,’ she said.
‘Through our UK Aid Connect programme we are helping businesses root out child labour from supply chains, educating children on the often-hidden risks of trafficking and helping provide a platform for their experiences to be heard.
‘Child labour and trafficking is a shameful stain on our global conscience and together, we must stamp it out for good.’
Tim Pilkington, CEO of World Vision UK, said many child victims were being forced into armed conflict, used in prostitution or pornography, trafficked or forced to work long hours in dangerous conditions.
‘Forced labour robs millions of children of their childhoods over the world,’ he said.
‘This programme will have global impact, giving countless numbers of physically, emotionally and psychologically-shattered children the hope of a real childhood again. We must amplify their voices and allow them to demand the changes they need.’