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‘Child labour tripled in Jordan over past decade’

By Khetam Malkawi - Jun 11,2016 - Last updated at Jun 11,2016

Business owners caught employing children are fined JD500 (Photo by Nader Daoud)

AMMAN — The government must implement laws and policies to counter child labour, which has tripled in Jordan over the last decade, organisations said on Saturday.

In a paper to mark the annual “World Day against Child Labour”, annually observed on June 12, the Phenix Centre for Economic and Informatics Studies said poverty is the key driver of child labour, and noted that poverty rates have risen in Jordan in recent years. 

Some 100,000 children work in Jordan, the centre said, citing figures from the International Labour Organisation (ILO). 

There are internal and external reasons that contributed to the rise in child labour, but one of the main reasons is poverty and dropping out of school, the centre said. 

The poverty rate in Jordan increased from 13.3 per cent in 2008 to 14.4 per cent in 2010, and to almost 20 per cent in 2014.

The Labour Ministry said the rise in child employment was linked to the influx of Syrian refugees into the Kingdom. 

In a statement sent to The Jordan Times, the ministry said employers caught employing children are fined JD500, and the fine is doubled for repeat offenders. 

The legal age of employment in Jordan is 16. 

As for the employment of Syrian children, a recent study found that Syrian children are being exploited by farmers and companies in Jordan.

Tamkeen Fields for Aid, a legal aid organisation based in Amman, reported that its investigators discovered children as young as three working alongside their parents and siblings on farms in Jordan.

The study estimated that approximately 46 per cent of Syrian refugee boys and 14 per cent of girls aged 14 and above work more than 44 hours a week. 

Care International also issued a statement to observe the day, focusing on the need to help Syrian children attend school and to protect them from the potential risks of working at a young age.

“Many Syrian refugee children, in Jordan and in the region, are missing their education as they are forced to be the sole breadwinners for their families,” says Salam Kanaan, the country director of CARE International in Jordan. 

“About one-third of Syrian refugee families in Jordan are female-headed. Refugee women often feel vulnerable and struggle to find safe income sources, which forces them to send their children to work instead of school,” Kanaan added. 

Around 90,000 Syrian refugee children in Jordan are not going to school, according to the ILO.

According to the UNHCR, 35 per cent of school-aged Syrian children are not receiving education in Jordan, with many compelled to work informally. 

 

Meanwhile, the estimate of Syrian refugees living outside of camps under the poverty line has risen to 90 per cent, the agency added. 

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