Syrian children ‘increasingly exploited’ for labour

UNICEF and Save the Children say increasing child labour is creating a “lost generation” of Syrian children.

The conflict in Syria is pushing an ever increasing number of children into exploitation in the labour market, a new report revealed.

Children in the country were now contributing to the family income in more than three quarters of surveyed households, according the report released by Save the Children and UNICEF.

Thursday’s report also showed that close to half of all Syrian refugee children in neighbouring Jordan were now the joint or sole family breadwinners in surveyed households.

Save the Children/UNICEF report

In Lebanon, children as young as six years old are reportedly working, the report said.

“As families become increasingly desperate, children are working primarily for their survival. Whether in Syria or neighbouring countries, they are becoming main economic players,” Roger Hearn, regional Director for Save the Children in the Middle East and Eurasia, said.

The report found that a spiralling number of children are employed in harmful working conditions, risking serious damage to their health and wellbeing.

Save the Children/UNICEF report

The most vulnerable of all working children are those involved in armed conflict, sexual exploitation and illicit activities including organised begging and child trafficking, the reports states.

Researchers of the report surveyed Syrian households in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq.

‘Lost generation’

Children who work were more likely to drop out of school – adding to fears of a “lost generation” of Syrian children, according to the report.

Julliete Touma, a spokesperson for UNICEF, said the report was “a wake-up call” for all those who can make a difference.

“We have called on civil society organisations, to host governments and to donor states to do more in order to address this issue,” she told Al Jazeera.

Save the Children/UNICEF report

The UN says the phenomenon is only increasing and much more needs to be done to reverse the trend.

Three out of four working children surveyed in Jordan’s vast Zaatari refugee camp have reported health problems at work, according to the report.

A further 22 percent of children casually employed in the agricultural sector in Mafraq and the Jordan Valley have also been injured while working, the rights groups reported.

Source: Al Jazeera