Afghanistan: Poverty pushes more children into labor in Takhar

Many children are seen working on the streets in the northeastern city of Taluqan, the center of Takhar, with some of them being the only breadwinner for their families.

Some of the children do boot polish while others carry carts to transfer people’s goods from shops to their homes. They roam from dawn to dusk on the streets of a small market in the city of Taluqan in search of finding any opportunity for work.

One child who does not even know his birthday says he might be five years or six years old and that he earns almost 50 Afs (one American dollar) daily from boot polishing.

“I work as a boot polish… I might be five years old… I take the money to my mother,” said a child laborer.

In another corner, Mohammad Tahir, another child, is busy collecting plastic and cans. He says he works every day from dawn to dusk.

Azizullah, another child, said his father is ill and he works with a cart to make ends meet.

“We are 10 people in our family. I take 10 loaves of bread home daily and pay 50 Afs for taxi rent. Nothing remains for me,” Azizullah said.

Most of the labor children in Takhar’s streets are seen as exhausted and tired due to their continued work under the sun.

“We should study. I should go to school every day. I should stop this to become successful in the future,” said Khalid, a labor child.

Takhar residents said that “a sharp rise” in the number of labor children on the Taluqan streets is concerning. They said the children are doing labor that is beyond their ability, but they have no other choice.

“There are many problems that push children to do labor to afford their families. They carry heavy goods, they do boot polish,” said Nusratullah, a resident of Takhar.

Figures show at least 1 million child laborers in Afghanistan, where incomes have plummeted and millions are on the brink of starvation.

The Representative of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Afghanistan, Fran Equiza, said in May that roughly 90 percent of the population in Afghanistan is on the brink of poverty “and children bear the brunt of it.”