Geneva –Syrian refugee children working in Lebanon are facing unendurable difficulties and are suffering from a series of labor violations that require immediate intervention by the Lebanese authorities. Such an intervention should include the amendment of relevant laws, warns the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.
A comprehensive report on child labor among Syrian refugee children in Lebanon has been issued on Wednesday by the Geneva-based Euro-Med Monitor. The report discusses in further detail the long hours of work children are forced to spend as well as the lack of security and safety measures, which place their lives at risk, further exposing them to accidents and physical harm.
The report indicates that about 54.8 percent of all Syrian refugees in Lebanon are children, 72 percent of them are females. Only 50 percent of these refugee children in Lebanon attend primary school (about 250,000 children between the ages of 3 and 14). 60 to 70 percent of these children are forced to work according to the Freedom Fund’s Anti-Slavery Organization.
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), 85 percent of working children in Lebanon (mostly Syrians) are subjected to “the worst forms of child labor”.
While preventing refugees in Lebanon from working, the Lebanese authorities are exposing children to difficult circumstances. Under such policies, children are forced to work illegally or to beg, both of which cause harm to children and to the market.
The Lebanese authorities are urged to end all practices restricting the right of refugees to work, including the revocation the non-employment agreement, Euro-Med further stresses. Any further restrictions on adult refugees’ work expose children to forced labor and dropping out of schools.
The Lebanese authorities should help refugees (Syrians and Palestinians) get through this dilemma by fully waiving residency fees, especially as this would reduce the number of illegal refugees in the territory.
In light of these appalling circumstances, the Euro-Med calls on the United Nations’ countries and organizations worldwide to provide adequate support that would meet the needs of refugees and asylum seekers in Lebanon, to improve educational support projects and to expand schools enough to accommodate more students. Euro Med also calls for the implementation of economic projects to provide work opportunities for unemployed refugees and asylum seekers, helping them overcome work restrictions and providing financial assistance.
With regards to education, the Lebanese authorities should further contribute to removing the various obstacles to the enrollment of refugee children in schools, given that more than half of them are children (at least 54 per cent).
The Lebanese authorities should also exert more effort in providing refugee-specialized schools, especially in light of the different educational systems and curricula between Syria and Lebanon. The Lebanese ministry of education should dedicate evening schools as a model for building and strengthening it.
The report recommends increased supervision over child labor and a complete removal of all obstacles to eliminating circumstances that allow it to thrive. An additional recommendation is to provide specialized experts to follow up pursuant to Lebanon's commitment to the United Nations conventions and laws.
The report is concluded by Euro-Med’s expression of hope that the Lebanese authorities, especially the Lebanese Parliament, will reconsider the laws on child labor.