Terre des hommes’ report indicates dramatic increase of child labour among Syrian refugees.

Child labour among Syrian refugees has reached an alarming scale. Terre des Hommes identified multiple forms of child labour particularly in Syria and Syria’s neighbouring countries in its Child Labour Report 2016.

“The devastating living conditions of the people in Syria as well as of the refugees in countries adjacent to Syria push many children into all forms of labour, including the worst forms”, explains Albert Recknagel from Terre des Hommes. Protection and prevention mechanisms have to be scaled up immediately.

In its Child Labour Report 2016, Terre des Hommes analyzed whether child labour is on the rise among Syrian children in their home country, in Syria’s neighbouring countries as well as along the Balkan Route into Europe and in destination countries (such as Germany).

The result is clear: children in Syria face multiple horrors on a daily basis. As a result of war,they are drawn into all types of child labour including the worst forms such as recruitment by armed groups. Moreover, child labour in the Syrian neighbouring countries Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey has drastically increased since 2014/2015 as a coping mechanism for refugee families and children to survive. At that time, families had exhausted their savings, income was depleted, aid services reduced and national capacities overstretched.

“Thus, families had no other chance than to opt for more drastic options. Children bear an immense burden and have often taken the role of the breadwinner – even the very young”, explains Albert Recknagel from Terre des Hommes.

Cover-Study-200x300Syrian girls and boys are found working on construction sites, in agriculture, on the streets as well as in the industrial sector with devastating consequences for their development. More than 50 percent of the children consulted by Terre des Hommes in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey reported that they are working more than 7 hours a day – with almost one third of these working seven days per week. Some of them are only five or six years old when they start. Protection mechanisms in place were found to be insufficient to prevent children from exploitation.

In contrast, no evidence was found that children take up work whilst in transit through Europe as most people intended to quickly continue their journey.

“This might change after the closure of the border along the Balkan Route a few weeks ago”, underlines Albert Recknagel from Terre des Hommes. Single cases of child labour have already been reported to Terre des Hommes, for instance in the Greek-Macedonian border zone where thousands of refugees are stranded. In addition, in destination countries such as Germany, several risk factors for child labour were identified.

Recent media reports highlighted for example the fact that thousands of refugee children have “disappeared” on their way to Europe. Sexual exploitation and forced labour were mentioned as potential root causes. This is impossible to verify at the moment as no information is collected on tracing unaccompanied minor refugees.

Terre des Hommes thus calls upon the international community to increase prevention and protection mechanisms.

“We have to address the issue of child labour following a holistic approach. Efforts should include all the aspects of child labour, such as enhance access to education, provide cash assistance for families and improve child protection mechanisms”, states Albert Recknagel from Terre des Hommes.

“Moreover, Terre des Hommes calls upon the European Union to concentrate its efforts to fight against the worst forms of child labour, as stated into the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy.” states Ignacio Packer, Terre des Hommes Secretary General

Download the Child Labour Report 2016 “Because we struggle to survive” 

Contacts for Press interviews

Antje Ruhmann, Child Rights Officer for Child Labour,Terre des Hommes Germany, Phone: +49 541 71 01 161, a.ruhmann[a]tdh.de

Wolf-Christian Ramm, Spokesperson, Terre des Hommes Germany, mobile +49 171-6729748
phone +49 541/7101-158, c.ramm[a]tdh.de