SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

November 30, 2013

Syrian refugee children work, provide

ZAHLEH, Lebanon — Every morning in northeastern Lebanon, hundreds of Syrian children are picked up from refugee settlements, loaded onto trucks and taken to the fields or shops for a day’s work that earns $4 or less.

Throughout the day, young boys and girls walk along dirt roads, carrying baskets of fruits and vegetables from the fields to shops. Some are barefoot, while others struggle with the heavy load.

The children, some as young as 7, are cheap labor in Lebanon and Jordan, where they’ve fled the Syrian civil war. And they are fast becoming primary providers for their families as the adults can’t find jobs in exile. They work long hours of manual labor in fields, farms and shops for little pay, according to a U.N. report issued Friday.

More than two million Syrians have fled their country’s civil war, now in its third year, seeking shelter in neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. At least half of the refugees — 1.1 million — are children. Of those, some 75 percent are under the age of 12, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

The 65-page report issued yesterday by the UNHCR highlighted the plight of the children, who are growing up in fractured families, missing out on education as they turn to manual labor, sometimes under dangerous or exploitative conditions, the report said.

“If we do not act quickly, a generation of innocents will become lasting casualties of an appalling war,” said Antonio Guterres, the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees, during a visit to Lebanon’s border town of Arsal. Tens of thousands of Syrians have arrived there in recent weeks alone.

With all those refugees competing for work, the children are attractive laborers.

“There are thousands like me and they prefer to employ boys, not men, because they will do whatever they tell them to, and for less money,” said Abu Mussab, a 36-year-old refugee from a village near Syria’s war ravaged northern city of Aleppo.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World

Local News
  • City gets four bids for McKay School BEVERLY -- In the latest round of bids for the McKay School property, the city will consider four new proposals it received last week. The most recent proposals mark the fourth time the city has reviewed bids on the property and the second effort for

    August 20, 2014

  • Police to put down their pens, write electronic tickets BOSTON -- State troopers will soon toss handwritten tickets in favor of electronic citations to save money and time, and local police across the state could eventually follow suit. State police using the system will swipe or scan a driver's license t

    August 20, 2014

  • 140819_SN_DLE_VAPOR2 No 'butts' about it: Vapor stores pop up despite e-cig concerns Michael Greene sells e-cigarettes because they saved his life. And if they were available in the United States 17 years ago, they might have also spared his father, who smoked four packs of cigarettes a day for 40 years. "If you put too many regulati

    August 20, 2014 3 Photos

  • 140819_SN_DLE_MURPHY4 109 days, 2 new lungs later, Essex Deputy Sheriff Murphy comes home

    Dozens of friends and family members lined up on Balcomb Street Tuesday evening to greet Newton Murphy as he arrived home from his double lung transplant. Murphy, the Essex County deputy sheriff, had been in the hospital for 109 days after his surge

    August 20, 2014 8 Photos

  • Sex offender Matthew Delima, who fled with teen, gets 2-10 years

    SALEM -- A judge Tuesday returned a homeless Level 3 sex offender to state prison for two to 10 years, but he said that after reading police reports and other records in the case, he would have imposed even more time. The reason Judge Timothy Feeley

    August 20, 2014 3 Stories