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
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.
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  , 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.
·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
· 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.
Palestinian Association for Human Rights