Small hands, heavy burden: how the Syria conflict is driving more children into the workforce

Save The Children and UNICEF


Some 2.7 million Syrian children are currently out of school, a figure swollen by children who are forced to work instead. The limited access these children have to quality education is part of the problem; moreover, children who work are more likely to drop out of education.

Harmful work hurts children’s bodies as well as their prospects in life. Around 75% of working children in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan reported health problems; almost 40% reported an injury, illness or poor health9;9 35.8% of children working in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley are unable to read or write. Boys and girls involved in harmful work miss out on their childhood.

Child labour represents one of the key challenges to the fulfilment of the “No Lost Generation” initiative launched in 2013, in which UNICEF, Save the Children and other partners aimed to put child protection and education at the centre of the humanitarian response to the Syria crisis.

The purpose of this report is to shed light on the plight of working children and influence a bold discussion on strategies to address the phenomenon. Drawing on assessments and studies undertaken in countries affected by the Syria crisis, it examines the implications for children, and proposes a set of recommendations for stakeholders to consider that could reduce the impact of child labour among Syrian children, and help them reclaim their childhood.

The cover shows the picture of a boy working outside a camp, wearing a cap and filthy garment
Save The Children and UNICEF
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