Child labor exploitation growing concern for youth in Syrian Kurdistan
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Two international organizations on Saturday warned that child labor in Syria had reached unsafe levels amid ongoing war and violence in the country.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Save the Children, two non-governmental organizations, said in a report that an increase in child labor in Syria had “reached dangerous levels” due to the conflict in the country and the humanitarian crisis resulting from it.
“The conflict and the humanitarian crisis in Syria are driving more and more children to become exploited in the labor market,” the organizations said in a joint report titled “Small Hands, Heavy Burden.”
“Four out of five children suffer from poverty,” the report added. “While 2.7 million Syrian children are out of school, a figure exacerbated by the number of children forced into the labor market.”
According to the Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Child, children “should not be employed before reaching an appropriate age and should not be allowed to take on a profession that harms their physical, mental, or moral development and health, or hinders their education.”
In the Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) city of Qamishlo, a 13-year-old Kurdish boy named Shayar was forced to leave school and begin work at a mechanic shop to help provide for his family.
“I have been working as a mechanic for the past three years,” he told Kurdistan 24. “I left school because I am older now and ready to work to help provide for my family.”
Shayar works an average of 10 hours per day and says that although his work is very tiring, he enjoys it.
“After work, I meet up with my friends to hang out and play before going home in the evening,” he added.
According to a 2016 UNICEF report, since the start of the Syrian crisis in 2011, and due to the ongoing violence, nearly three million children in Syria have been left without education and forced into the labor market.