of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon forced to work: aid group
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[June 12, 2014]
By Tara Carmichael
BEIRUT (Reuters) - At least 50,000 Syrian
refugee children in Lebanon are working, often in dire conditions and
for 12 hours a day, to pay for food and shelter for their families, aid
organisation CARE said.
More than a million Syrian refugees live in Lebanon, making up a
quarter of the country's population, having fled a civil war in its
fourth year, which has left more than 160,000 dead.
Only 50 percent of Syrian refugee children in the region attend
school, and only 30 percent in Lebanon, CARE said.
Children working as street vendors say they are earning less than $5
a day. Others work at coffee shops and markets or on farms and
construction sites. Some say they commute for hours on buses into
the capital Beirut.
Mohammad, a 14-year-old shoe shiner who fled Syria a year ago, said
he makes about $6 a day, picking up work as he walks up and down the
streets of Beirut's Hamra shopping district.
Mohammad said the money goes towards feeding his younger siblings.
Asked if he would like to return to school, he said: "God willing,
when I return to Syria."
Other children beg, often with family members, in Hamra and others
pack bags in minimarkets or work as car valets.
In Jordan, where nearly 600,000 Syrian refugees live, child labour
has doubled nationwide to 60,000 since the start of the war, CARE
said this week.
The group is giving cash to families in Jordan and Lebanon, which
has banned refugee camps, to allow children to attend school rather
than work, but funds are insufficient, CARE said.
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"The conditions are harsh and safety and security of the children is
not guaranteed," Johanna Mitscherlich, Regional Emergency
Communications Coordinator for CARE Jordan, said in an email, noting
that housing is inadequate and that families struggle by on one or
two meals a day.
"There are also quite a few children who have injuries from the war
or who are still traumatized and can therefore neither work nor go
to school," she said.
Thursday marks International Day against Child Labour with about 168
million children working worldwide, down by a third since 2000,
according to the International Labour Organisation.
(Editing by Oliver Holmes and Louise Ireland)
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