Press release

Brussels – 13 February 2020

Children trapped working in mica mines in Madagascar are counting on MEPs to stand up for them by voting for a crucial European Parliament resolution on Thursday (13 February), say Terre des Hommes.

Around 11,000 children work in the mica mining sector in Madagascar. Many put their lives at risk by working in extreme heat in mines with little oxygen that are prone to collapse. Children are forced to endure muscle pain from carrying heavy loads and suffer respiratory problems from breathing in particles of fine mica dust.

The resolution, if passed, would commit the Parliament to prioritising the rights and wellbeing of children working in Malagasy mica mines. It would help place the fight against exploitative child labour at the forefront of the Parliament’s agenda, not just in Madagascar but across all sectors and within all countries across the globe.

Letizia Polizzi, EU Advocacy Officer at Terre des Hommes, said:
“Half of the entire workforce mining mica in Madagascar are under 18. These children work long hours in squalid conditions for little pay, when they should be at school, playing with friends and enjoying their childhood.”

“MEPs can shine a light on the challenges these children face by voting for this resolution. They must vote to guarantee the European Parliament does everything it can do to improve the situation for these children.”

Mica refers to a group of different minerals used in a wide range of goods in the electronic and automotive industries. It can be found in car paint, smartphones, laptops, makeup and many other products. Eighty-nine percent of mica mined in Madagascar is exported to China, from where it makes its way into goods sold in Western markets.

The European Parliament is crucial to guaranteeing that the rights of children in the mica mining sector are respected. It can help stop companies profiting from exploitative child labour in Madagascar and beyond by requesting that the European Commission introduce new laws requiring companies to take action to address human rights violations in their supply chains.

The European Union must also continue supporting Madagascar and other least developed countries by investing in health, education, nutrition and other social services through its development policies. This would raise the living conditions of children who are forced to work in order to support their families and help end their exploitation.

For more information, please contact:

Paul Creeney, Communications Officer, paul.creeney@terredeshommes.org, +32 (0) 465 946 509

Notes to editors

  • The recent Terre des Hommes report Child Labour in Madagascar’s Mica Sector lifts the lid on the scale of the issue. The report was released in November 2019 and uses first-hand research and testimony on the ground to show what life was like for children and their families working in the sector.
  • The European Parliament vote on the urgent resolution is due to take place on Thursday 13 February 2020. It was tabled by Renew Europe MEP Hilde Vautmans.
  • Free to use, high resolution photos of children working in the mica sector in Madagascar are available on request.

Picture: Children sift through debris for sheets of mica. ©Jan-Joseph Stok/Terre des Hommes