Reports & Researches

Palestinian Child Labor… Dreams of a Generation Lost among crises

He threw his schoolbag and said: My siblings are better to be educated. This is what Mahdi said; the twelve-year old kid who is one of the many kids who decided to quit going to school and devote their lives to work. Those children who were broken before they even blossom and mature. Why not, and he is the one who hears his father's sorrow and his brothers' longing for a piece of bread. Mahdi decided to be his father’s right hand, hopefully he can erase the tears and pain drawn in his eyes. He has always loved his school, but his love towards his siblings was greater… He has always dreamt of a degree as all his peers did; however-instead- he preferred to let it be a testimony to a society that left him bleeding in agony losing his childhood in front of his eyes. Mahdi was one of the stories we read every day. Hopefully, we might realize one day that the folds of these stories are the cries of a whole generation.

The anguish of year 2021 in Lebanon was obviously reflected on many of the Palestinian kids’ faces who have already suffered from the stiffness of living in the Palestinian refugees. The financial and economic collapse in Lebanon and its prominent influence on Palestinian refugees, along with the spreading of the Corona virus and the closure of schools for more than a year, are all factors that obliged children to seek for job opportunities to support their families in order to sustain their livelihood. The phenomenon of child labor has pervaded in the Palestinian community, where many children are compelled to work in brutal conditions; most of which are tough with respect to their ages (blacksmithing, house painting, electricity, mechanics, tiles, aluminum, scrap collecting...) which makes them highly prone to exploitation. Undoubtedly, what is happening contradicts the International Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989; paragraph (1-32) specifically which fights child labor, economic exploitation, and any job that may be perilous or represents a hindrance for their academic learning in addition to a one that may harm their health, body, mental, spiritual, social, and psychological development.

Reports issued by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in 2017, indicate that the number of Palestinian refugee children in Lebanon exceeds 60,000, representing more than 30% of the total number of Palestinian refugees. Also, according to UNRWA, the school dropout rate for Palestinians in Lebanon has reached 18%, with some students preferring to leave education and join the modest labor market, in order to achieve financial gain that contributes to covering the living.

Reasons behind the spread of child labor phenomenon in the Palestinian community:

·Spread of poverty among families in the camps by 73% of the population, or nearly three quarters of the Palestinian refugees, who live below the poverty line [1] , which leads to the need for children to work to obtain an income that secures the family's needs.

·Spread of some values ​​that encourage child labor, especially in the camps, in addition to the parents’ lack of awareness of the negative and harmful effects of child labor at an early age.

·School dropout

·Children being forced into the worst forms of labor due to the loss of jobs and incomes among vulnerable families as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which lead to additional economic shocks and school closures due to the pandemic.


vIn short, child labor is just the deprivation of the kids from their childhood and their exploitation by employers in several ways. The future of any nation is linked by the extent of reinforcement of children basic rights.

The Palestinian Institution for Human Rights (witness), which monitors the increase in the percentage of Palestinian child labor in Lebanon, calls for the following:

· UNRWA's work to increase spending on quality education and work to return the dropped-out children to their schools.

· UNRWA to provide periodic social assistance to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, so that families do not have to resort to child labor to help generate income.

· Lebanese government to give the Palestinians the right to work to help reduce child labor.

· NGOs to shed light on child labor phenomenon and promote for development projects.




Beirut, 24/11/2021


Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness)