Last update: September 2020
*Minor updates added: February 2023
Child labour is taking place in Syria but information on the extent of it is not available. However, a report indicated a ‘high occurrence’ of child labour that prevented school attendance [Targeting 2020, 12.2, p. 94]. As of August 2021, one third of households reportedly saw their child dropping out of school because of child labour [Damascus 2022, 3.2.2, p. 40].
Several sources reported that child labour was generally used as a negative coping mechanism to alleviate financial constraints. As of August 2021, the phenomenon grew because average household expenses were exceeding income by 50 %. [Damascus 2022, 3.2.2, p. 40]
In particular, child labour has been reported in families as coping strategy to meet basic needs in Rukban IDP camp on the border to Jordan. It was also stated that in northwest Syria households experiencing multiple displacement became exposed to an increased threat of resorting to child labour. A report also indicated that child labour was occurring in communities across northern Idlib, likely exposing children there to abuse and exploitation. Boys are reportedly at greater risk of becoming subject to labouring than girls [Targeting 2020, 12.2, p. 94]. On the other hand, young girls are forced to resort to negative coping mechanisms such as prostitution or survival sex, because they are in need of money and goods [Situation of women, 1.1.3, p. 26].
Working outside of their homes and not residing together with their family also exposes children to exploitation by gangs, or to joining gangs, to smoking and drug abuse, and to health hazards stemming from handling dangerous equipment. Spending most of their day outside their home, many working children returned home alone after dark, further exposing them to harassment, including sexual harassment. [Targeting 2020, 12.2, p. 94]
Not all forms of child labour would amount to persecution. An assessment should be made in light of the nature and conditions of the work and the age of the child. Work that is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children could be considered to reach the severity of persecution.11 The impact of child labour on access to education should also be taken into account (see the subsection 4.12.5. Access to education). Other risks, such as involvement in criminal activities should also be considered.
The individual assessment of whether there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution should take into account risk-impacting circumstances, such as: age, gender, socio-economic situation, being in an IDP situation, region of origin or residence, etc. Children without a male relative, who is willing and able to provide support, would particularly be at risk.
Nexus to a reason for persecution
The risk of child labour as such may not generally imply a nexus to a reason for persecution. However, the individual circumstances of the applicant need to be taken into account to determine whether a nexus to a reason for persecution can be substantiated.
- 11International Labour Organization (ILO), Minimum Age Convention, C138, 26 June 1973, available at http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=NORMLEXPUB:12100:0::NO::P12100_IL…; Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, C182, 17 June 1999, available at http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=NORMLEXPUB:12100:0::NO::P12100_IL….