World Bulletin / News Desk
Ahead of International Children’s Day (November 20) CARE International voices its concern about Syrian refugee families becoming increasingly reliant on child labour to meet basic survival needs such as food and rent.
According to the latest Jordanian government estimates around 30,000 Syrian children are currently working in Jordan. The International Labour Organisation warns that the number of child labourers in Jordan may be even higher.
In Lebanon, at least 50,000 Syrian refugee children need to work to support their families.
“Many of the families we register in our refugee centres every day fled without male family members because husbands, fathers have died or are still in Syria. Unfortunately, in a lot of the refugee families we register one of the young sons becomes the family’s breadwinner to make ends meet,” says Salam Kanaan, CARE Jordan Country Director.
The longer the refugee families stay in neighbouring countries the more financially vulnerable they become. Families cannot depend on their savings anymore and there is increased pressure for the more than one million refugee children to find work.
“A lot of families have fled months or years ago. They become more and more destitute and see no other option but to send their children to work to generate an income for the family,” says Kanaan.
“Being pulled into the workforce usually means being pulled out of school,” says Kanaan.
“Hundreds of thousands of school children have lost up to three years of education already. If we do not act immediately, an entire generation of children will miss out on an education, which is the most critical investment for Syria’s future.” In Jordan, no more than one third of the approximately 150,000 Syrian school-aged children are currently attending school.
In neighbouring Lebanon – the country that hosts the highest number of refugees – estimates show that the enrolment rates of Syrian children are under ten per cent. “The social and psychological impact of war on children is already immense. Working long hours under harsh conditions will add to the distress,” says Kanaan.
It is illegal to work or employ anyone under the age of 16 in Jordan and many children find themselves in deplorable and alarmingly exploitative situations. They are paid below the minimum wage, working long hours without appropriate safety equipment. “I talked to a 13-year-old boy who has to work 15 hours every day. Similar to many others he had to accept a wage as little as two Euros per day, sometimes his boss does not pay him at all. His hands are tied because he does not have a work permit and he cannot lose his job. His family would have no source of income anymore,” says Kanaan.
CARE calls on the international community to scale up its support for Syrian families further, so children can go back to school and do not have to work to provide for their families. “If the financial support for Syrian refugees remains as limited as it is now, the percentage of children working will rise even higher,” says Kanaan. “Unless refugees obtain the correct work permit, parents who are found working, may face legal action. If support is not being provided refugee families do not have another option.” As of today, CARE has secured less than 25 per cent of our USD 100 million required for the planned humanitarian assistance in the region.Last Mod: 20 Kasım 2013, 18:00