Syrian children working in Lebanon face violence and 10-hour days, says IRC

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Last year, a study (pdf) by Unicef, Save the Children and the International Labour Organisation estimated that 1,500 children work on the streets of Lebanon, making them highly vulnerable to severe exploitation.


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Syrian children working in Lebanon face violence and 10-hour days, says IRC” was written by Karen McVeigh, for theguardian.com on Friday 16th December 2016 13.12 UTC

Syrian refugee children in Lebanon are working 10-hour days on the streets for up to six days a week, according to the International Rescue Committee.

A survey by the IRC found that one in four such children works day and night, while 60% have experienced violence. Typically aged between six and 10, the children sell CDs, flowers, gum and tissues, or resort to begging in the centres of Tripoli and Beirut.

Nearly all of the 173 children surveyed by the IRC arrived in Lebanon from Syria between 2012 and 2104, so have already missed out on at least two years of schooling.

“Children working on the streets is the most visible sign of the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon,” said Sara Sannouh, IRC’s street and working children programme manager for Lebanon. “Street work is extremely hard for children, involves punishingly long hours and robs them of a chance to enjoy a normal childhood.”

Most of the children surveyed were boys but, in Beirut, almost half of them were girls.

There are currently 1.1 million Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon, half of whom are children.

Since Lebanon introduced tougher residency regulations for Syrian refugees last year, including a $200 (£160) fee, many have found it difficult or impossible to renew their permits. Unable to work without fear of arrest, they increasingly rely on children to earn money to survive, according to Human Rights Watch.

The IRC said that mothers of street children often had other children to look after, or were unable to work, even on the black market, because of their lack of residency status. Nine out of 10 of those working in Tripoli were from Aleppo.

Some of the children, who lived in Beirut, would take buses to Tripoli’s tourist areas, including the seafront, where they are able to earn more, the IRC said. Their daily earnings varied between $6 and $25.

Last year, a study (pdf) by Unicef, Save the Children and the International Labour Organisation estimated that 1,500 children work on the streets of Lebanon, making them highly vulnerable to severe exploitation.

The IRC, which runs programmes to help children working on the street to take part in child-centred activities as well as giving them advice on how to stay safe, said it has helped 150 children back into school.

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