Survey reveals plight of Syrian refugee children

A Syrian woman washes the dishes at an unofficial refugee camp in Lebanon's Bekaa valley. (AFP/File)
Updated 26 June 2019

Survey reveals plight of Syrian refugee children

  • Based on the report, 55.2 percent of Syrian refugees in Lebanon are under 18 years old ... 30 percent of those children have been injured on the job

BEIRUT: A survey on child labor among Syrian refugees in Lebanon has revealed that 4,592 of the 6,972 children in the study work — and many have been injured while on the job.

The children, aged four to 18, live in refugee camps in Hermel, Baalbek, Central Bekaa and Zahle.

Dr. Rima Habib, chair of the Environmental Health Department at the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) of the American University of Beirut (AUB), supervised the survey conducted by the Ministry of Labor in collaboration with AUB in 2017.

“There are reasons for child labor among Syrians, but we were surprised that 30 percent of those children get injured on the job,” Dr. Habib told Arab News.

“The survey, which began in August 2017 until today’s report, does not mean that things have changed. The situation is still the same, if not worse, and the study was presented to the concerned Ministry of Labor which will fight against this kind of labor,” she said.

Based on the report, “55.2 percent of Syrian refugees in Lebanon are under 18 years old, and out of 938,531 refugees registered at the High Commission for Refugee Affairs, 341,234 of them live in the Bekaa area close to the Syrian border.”

The report describes Syrian refugees’ status in Lebanon as “complicated.” Lebanon does not use the word “refugee” but prefers the term “displaced.” 

Lebanon has not signed the Geneva Convention, which binds states to provide refugees with basic rights. There are also no national laws for the fair treatment of refugees.

The Lebanese security authorities require Syrians to have a sponsor to enter Lebanon and work, and to have a permit costing $200 annually per individual. Many Syrians avoid this and live in Lebanon illegally. 

As a result, Syrians who do not meet the conditions of employment are forced to make their children who are under 18 work since they are less likely to be arrested and investigated.

Based on the survey, 74.8 percent of children work in agriculture, 50.5 percent do not attend school because they are working, 37.8 percent of children are not paid on time, and 43 percent of boys and 41 percent of girls are humiliated while working. Syrian children work in jobs such as waste-picking, construction, shoe cleaning, car washing and mechanics.

The survey shows that 78.8 percent of children work for a Lebanese employer and 19.5 percent for a Syrian employer. About 58 percent said that they give their pay to their parents, and most of them worked in unsuitable professions for children and under harsh conditions.

“The challenges Syrian refugee families face in Bekaa are interlinked with social, political and economic factors and since returning to Syria at this stage will take a long time, it is necessary to work on securing adequate support for the refugees to provide them with a decent life, prohibit child labor, protect them and support their education,” Dr. Habib said.


Iran cries victory after UN rejects US bid to extend arms embargo

Updated 15 August 2020

Iran cries victory after UN rejects US bid to extend arms embargo

  • Only two of the Council’s 15 members voted in favor of the US resolution seeking to extend the embargo
  • The result increases the likelihood that the US will try to unilaterally force a return of UN sanctions

TEHRAN: Iran on Saturday hailed a UN Security Council vote rejecting a US bid to extend an arms embargo on the Islamic republic, saying its foe has “never been so isolated.”
President Hassan Rouhani said the United States had failed to kill off what he called the “half alive” 2015 deal with major powers that gave Iran relief from sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
“The United States failed in this conspiracy with humiliation,” Rouhani told a televised news conference.
“In my opinion, this day will go down in the history of our Iran and in the history of fighting global arrogance.”
Only two of the Council’s 15 members voted in favor of the US resolution seeking to extend the embargo, highlighting the division between Washington and its European allies since President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear accord in May 2018.
Washington’s European allies all abstained, and Iran mocked the Trump administration for only winning the support of one other country, the Dominican Republic.
“In the 75 years of United Nations history, America has never been so isolated,” said foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi.
“Despite all the trips, pressure and the hawking, the United States could only mobilize a small country (to vote) with them,” he tweeted.
The result increases the likelihood that the US will try to unilaterally force a return of UN sanctions, which experts say threatens to plunge the Council into one of its worst-ever diplomatic crises.
“The Security Council’s failure to act decisively in defense of international peace and security is inexcusable,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The embargo on conventional arms is due to expire on October 18 under the terms of a resolution that blessed the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Since Trump pulled out of the JCPOA and slapped unilateral sanctions on Iran under a campaign of “maximum pressure,” Tehran has since taken small but escalating steps away from compliance with the nuclear accord as it presses for sanctions relief.
European allies of the United States — who, along with Russia and China, signed the deal with Iran — have voiced support for extending the 13-year-long conventional arms embargo, saying an expiry threatens stability in the Middle East.
However, their priority is to preserve the JCPOA.
The US text, seen by AFP, effectively called for an indefinite extension of the embargo on Iran, which diplomats said would threaten the nuclear agreement.
Iran says it has the right to self-defense and that a continuation of the ban would mean an end to the nuclear deal.
Pompeo announced that members had failed to back the proposal around 30 minutes before Indonesia, the current president of the Security Council, announced that the official results included two votes against and 11 abstentions.
Russia and China opposed the resolution.
“The result shows again that unilateralism enjoys no support, and bullying will fail,” China’s UN mission tweeted.
Ambassador Gunter Sautter of Germany, which abstained, said “more consultations are needed” to find a solution that is acceptable to all council members.
During a call between Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, the leaders “discussed the urgent need for UN action to extend the arms embargo on Iran.”
Hours earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin called on China, France, Russia, Britain, the US, Germany and Iran to convene an emergency video summit to avoid an escalation of tensions in the Gulf.
Washington has threatened to try to force a return of UN sanctions if it is not extended by using a controversial technique called “snapback.”
Pompeo has offered the contested argument that the US remains a “participant” in the nuclear accord as it was listed in the 2015 resolution — and therefore can force a return to sanctions if it sees Iran as being in violation of its terms.
European allies have been skeptical on whether Washington can force sanctions and warn that the attempt may delegitimize the Security Council.
Nevertheless, the US is expected to deliver the snapback letter next week, AFP understands.
Analysts suspect that Washington purposefully put forward a hard-line draft that it knew Council members would not be able to accept.
“The fact is that everybody at the UN believes this (resolution) is just a prelude to a US effort to trigger snapback and sink the Iranian nuclear deal,” Richard Gowan, a UN expert at the International Crisis Group, told AFP.