The phenomenon of child labor in Syria has become one of the hot debated issues, under the current crisis, as thousands of Syrian families have become homeless along with their children, who are obliged to stay in streets seeking work to support their families.
The question raised is whether the Syrian child is taking his due right and the reasons that pushed the Syrian children under this crisis to join the labor market early.
The answers come from children themselves. Muhammad, is a 10 year old child, who came to Damascus from Homs with his family . He said he could not join 4th grade elementary school in Homs, because his school was demolished by the terrorists and he is now working in selling tobacco with his disabled father in the streets. Muhammad's father, continued the child with tears in his eyes, cannot afford to provide education for his other 5 brothers who all dropped out of school for the same reason.
Muhammad said that he saw two of his class-mates laying dead in the street in front of their school after being shot by terrorist snipers, adding that he no more likes the school and prefers to stay in the street selling tobacco from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. carrying the memory of his class-mates and school with him.
Ali, a 16 year old child whose fate was sealed into streets as to support his widowed mother, two sisters and two brothers , after their father was killed in a terrorist explosion in Harasta, in the outskirt of Damascus, is another victim of the terrorist acts. He quitted the school to work in selling combs in the streets. He refused to get money from passersby or to be treated as a beggar. "I want to support my family with my own money and hard work", he insisted. He, all the day, has been quarreling with his rivals in this profession to attract more clients.
When I asked Ali if he still dreams of returning to school after the crisis, he said:" This gloomy condition would not kill my dreams to continue my study and be a human rights activist or a lawyer to disseminate national awareness among all Syrians to reconcile and leave their differences behind, and to build a new Syria for all Syrians." Ali, whose efforts are dedicated to ensure minimum requirements of food basics to his family added : " I do not want to see more displaced children like me in streets".
Evidences are numerous on the number of children, both boys and girls who come every day to Damascus from neighboring town to work hard and return back with little money to their displaced and vulnerable families.
It is extremely regrettable, under the current crisis to have local traders who exploit the situation and prefer to recruit children because of low wages and the possibility of having control on them for long work hours.