Because we struggle to survive: Child labour among refugees of the Syrian conflict

Terre des Hommes


This study provides pertinent first-hand information on the reality facing Syrian children who are working either in their homeland, the neighbouring countries or elsewhere in Europe. Syria’s civil war is the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. Hundreds of thousands of people – adults and children alike – have been killed. Two thirds of all Syrians have lost their homes and their livelihoods. Millions of Syrians have been uprooted from their home communities and forced to flee within their country or to neighbouring countries. Approximately half of the Syrian refugees and displaced persons are children and young people who suffer from a double-vulnerability: as children and as migrants or refugees.

Although children escape the war, they are still not out of harm’s way. This study reports on a strong increase in the economic exploitation of these children. Children are working in agriculture, on the streets, in factories and in tents and other confined spaces which have now become their new homes.

The study “Because we struggle to survive” sheds light on the problem of child labour, including its worst forms, among refugees from the on-going conflict in Syria and the tremendous spill-over effects in the region. It presents the overall picture and analyses the push and pull factors for child labour among internally displaced children in Syria and refugee children in neighbouring countries, as well as in the countries they are heading to.

Terre des Hommes found substantial evidence that Syrian children  are facing a high danger of being drawn into child labour and the worst forms of child labour in Syria itself, in neighbouring countries and whilst in transit through Europe. A significant proportion of children fleeing Syria – whether accompanied, unaccompanied or separated – is presumed to be victims of child labour, including the worst forms of child labour.

The cover shows a picture of two children working in a field, the picture is in sepia
Terre des Hommes
Publication date
English, German