Syrian children should be at school not at work

This story was originally posted by UNICEF CEE/CIS.

ANKARA, 11 June 2016 - On the eve of the World Day Against Child Labour on 12 June, UNICEF expressed deep concern about the numbers of Syrian children who are engaged in child labour in Turkey.

As the Syrian conflict is now well into its sixth year, an increasing number of Syrian children have found themselves engaged in child labour, while the number of Turkish children working has significantly decreased since the 1990s. Field observations and available information show that Syrian children are engaged in some of the worst forms of child labour through seasonal agriculture, small-medium enterprises (textile or shoe workshops or auto-mechanics), and working on the streets. Turkish children engaged in child labour also work in the same sectors.

UNICEF warned that the persistence of child labour poses a serious threat to children’s wellbeing and has severe negative short- and long-term consequences for the fulfilment of their rights, as guaranteed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. These rights include protection from economic exploitation, denial of education and exposure to violence.

Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF Representative in Turkey declared, “In all circumstances, Syrian children also should be protected from child labour. They should be able to go to school to prepare better for their future and to rebuild their country as soon as it will be possible. Children must not be robbed of their childhood”.

Child labour harms the mental, social, physical and psychological development of children. For little pay, children work long hours, in close contact with toxic products and/or hazardous environments to contribute to their family income. This situation holds them back from going to school, spending time with peers, having opportunities for play and leisure and being protected from abuse and neglect.

Unfortunately, there are no statistics available on children engaged in child labour among the Syrian population living under temporary protection in Turkey. However, currently more than half a million Syrian children of school age are estimated to be out of school. Besides a lack of easy access to schools, there are often socio-economic barriers hindering children and adolescents to go to school.

In Turkey, UNICEF advocates for a holistic programme on child labour targeting Turkish and Syrian children as well as children from other nationalities. UNICEF works both with governmental and non-governmental organizations to address child labour.

UNICEF works in the areas of education, social protection and child protection and advocates for:
i) Addressing poverty by building social safety nets for the most vulnerable Syrian families, complemented by additional education incentives, and by increasing opportunities for adults to access formal and decent work and other income generating activities.
ii) Access and quality of education should be supported by accelerating formal schooling opportunities for all ages, as well as non-formal educational opportunities.
iii) Business principles should be revisited to ensure child labour free production all along the supply chain.


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For further information please contact:
Sema Hosta, Chief of Communication, UNICEF in Turkey shosta@unicef.org +90-312-454-1000

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