, Salem, MA


November 30, 2013

Syrian refugee children work, provide


When he arrived in Lebanon nine months ago, Abu Mussab sought shelter in a shanty town near the Syrian border where he used to stay as a migrant worker during harvest season, hoping to get his old job back and provide for his family of six.

He quickly found out he had no chance of getting work. But his oldest son did, and even though he’s only 12, Mussab is now the sole provider for his parents and three younger siblings, earning $65 a month working in a car repair shop.

“I had to find a way to survive,” said Abu Mussab.

in an interview at a rented shack built of old billboard ads in Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa Valley. He spoke to The Associated Press on condition he is identified only with his nickname for fear of harassment by the authorities.

In Jordan’s sprawling Zaatari refugee camp, most of the 680 small shops employ children, the report said. A UNHCR assessment of refugee children living outside of the camp found that in 11 of the country’s 12 provinces, nearly every second refugee household surveyed relied partly or entirely on income generated by a child.

More Syrian refugee children are now out of school than enrolled in a formal education system, the agency’s research found.

“I would rather see him go to school than to work every day,” said Abu Mussab about his son, fighting tears. “But there is no school for Syrians, and I can’t teach my son anything so maybe this way, he will learn a skill.”

During a recent visit to one of the refugee communities near the Lebanese eastern town of Zahleh, refugees rushed to a group of foreigners, asking them if they have come to offer them work and whether their children start school any time soon.

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