Baseline Assessment of Child Labour among Syrian Refugees in Za’atari Refugee Camp - Jordan, November 2014
Jordan has been extremely generous in opening its borders and services to Syrian refugees, striving to provide a home away from home and return some sense of normalcy to their lives.
This effort does not come without significant challenges and costs to all involved, particularly with an exodus of this magnitude and given the extreme levels of vulnerability affecting Syrian refugees.
One particularly striking social phenomenon that has emerged not only in Jordan but in all countries hosting Syrian refugees is that of child labour. In the context of the international community’s No Lost Generation initiative1 it is vital that every effort is made to analyse the problem in more detail, its causes and consequences, in order to put in place a comprehensive and effective plan of action to reduce and ultimately eliminate the significant numbers of working Syrian refugee children and prevent its recurrence.
In this context, the Jordan Country Office of Save the Children International (SCI) and UNICEF Jordan carried out a detailed survey on the very visible phenomenon of child labour in Za’atari refugee in mid-2014. It has become so commonplace in the camp to see children gathering in the busy market place to attract customers and then push wheelbarrows laden with goods to people’s homes, to see them fetching and carrying supplies for the hundreds of small stalls and shops and to see them looking after groups of smaller children that they have almost become part of the background tapestry of this sprawling, thriving community. In itself, this is a worrying development, because with so many children who are out of school, with such limited opportunities for adults and young people to work either in or out of the camp and with such high levels of economic insecurity and uncertainty over the future, the fear is that a high level of tolerance creeps into the psyche of those in the camp and that child labourers become almost invisible except to those occasional visitors. Child labour is a violation of children’s fundamental rights and deprives them of their normal childhood development. In its worst forms, which are also prevalent in Za’atari camp, they endanger the physical, mental and emotional health and even the lives of children. As such, it is vital that interventions are developed based on the outcomes of this survey.