In Syria, 11 years of conflict have significantly eradicated citizens’ access to essential services in the fields of health and education, in addition to damaging longer-term livelihood opportunities. As socioeconomic resources dwindle, families are forced to resort to negative coping stratgies. One of the most common of these strategies is child labour; years of fighting and economic hardship have compelled many families to send their children into early employment to augment their family income.
While child labour was prevalent in Syria before to the outbreak of the war, the conflict has worsened the situation significantly. School closures, forced displacement, and dwindling adult labour market possibilities have swelled the labour market with minors. A generation of Syrian children has grown up without ever receiving a formal education, which many more have had their education halted temporarily. Over 40% Syria’s displaced children are still out of school. Families that do not have access to schooling may put their children to work to supplement household income.
Unofficial estimates put the number of children in the labour market at 5 million, with the Worst Forms of Child Labour among the most common. As the most vulnerable segment of society, children often end up working in dangerous and unsuitable occupations. Carrying heavy loads, long hours, as well as exposure to pesticides and toxic chemicals, are just some of the dangers that working children face every day across the region.
For this reason, an emergency intervention led by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour (MoSAL), UNICEF, and the ILO aims to combat the Worst Forms of Child Labour in Syria. The intervention has helped develop a national plan in collaboration with line ministries. The ILO’s child protection preventive and response system aims to supplement humanitarian and development initiatives in Syria.
The ILO's strategy includes both prevention and reaction, as well as rehabilitation assistance for individuals involved in the most heinous types of child work. The initiative was developed in coordination with other UN agencies, such as the UNHCR, WFP, and UNFPA, on protection and education initiatives in order to adopt a multi-sectoral approach to fighting child labour.
- Reduce the prevalence of Worst Forms of Child Labour (WFCL) in two Syrian governorates, as well as improve access to protection and fundamental child rights for children participating in WFCL.
- Decrease the incidence of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in two governorates in Syria.
- Provide special assistance to children who have participated/participate in the Worst Forms of Child Labour enabling them to gain access to protection and fulfil their fundamental child rights.
- Successfully close 180 cases of children who engage in the WFCL through rehabilitation and reintegration (as differentiated from those receiving case management and referral services).
- Successfully reintegrate 27 out of 180 children into to formal or non-formal education
- Assess and identify sectors in each governorate where there is a relatively high incidence of the WFCL.
- Provide training to three case managers and one supervisor in each governorate on the WFCL, child protection case management systems and rehabilitation programmes such as Supporting Children's Rights through Education, the Arts and the Media (SCREAM)
- Train child labour social workers/community facilitators and specialists in the WFCL, child labour identification, outreach, case management, referrals, as well as child protection social workers/community workers in partner agencies.
- Integrate child labour in appropriate teaching sessions for 180 youngsters, using SCREAM and other resources.