The armed conflicts that have tear apart the Arab region have had frightful economic and social consequences. In this situation of extreme sufferance, children are the weakest subjects and, unfortunately, the most exploited ones.
Commissioned by the League of Arab States and by the Arab Council for Childhood Development and developed in collaboration with the International Labour Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the new report “Child labour in the Arab region: a quantitative and qualitative analysis” shows a forgotten dimension of the wars that have marked, during the last ten years, the Arab region.
In fact, the conflict provokes the involvement of thousands of children -refugees, internally displaced persons and foreign exiles- in forms of child labour exploitation. Forced labour, premature marriages, prostitution: these are some of the paths to which these minors are destined.Child labour among refugee and displaced children is mainly a mechanism to face the extreme poverty of their families, in which frequently adults cannot find any job.
The worst forms of child labour exploitation are some types of tasks entrusted in the agricultural sector, which constitutes the greatest part of child employment in the Arab area (employment for which they frequently obtain no retribution). But there is a sector that may be even more worrying in which minors are dragged: the military one. The study shows an increase in the recruitment and in the use of children by armed groups, especially in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. If normally the minors implied are boys, there is a growing trend also in the direct or indirect involvement of girls under fifteen years of age.
Their tasks are different. Apart from participating in armed conflicts and other terrorist activities, they also carry out secondary tasks: delivery of supplies in the battle frontiers, recovery of petroleum waste, collection of bodies for burial, introduction in areas dotted with unexploded ordnance to collect provisions.
The study ends with three recommendations. The first one is to harmonise the legislation of the Arab countries in order to limit the exploitation of child labour. The second one is to refuse any type of involvement in supranational and international armed conflicts. The third one is to implement welfare policies that improve the socio-economic situation of families in order to make it no longer possible to use such horrors, thus letting children live in the serenity of their childhood.
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