BEIRUT: The Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) at the American University of Beirut organized an event at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs on Wednesday, to launch the Environmental Health Department’s report titled "Survey on Child Labour in Agriculture in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon: The Case of Syrian Refugees.”
Camille Abou Sleiman, The Minister of Labor and senior representatives from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the International Labor Organization (ILO) were all brought together to attend this event, which stood as a platform for researchers to share the report that studies the critical situation of children in camps and discusses potential interventions and initiatives to improve it.
"It is a pleasure to have you here at AUB to mark the launching of this significant and decisive report; one of the largest and most exacting reports on child labor ever produced,” Fadlo R. Khuri, President of American University of Beirut, said in his welcoming notes, “The American University of Beirut and its faculty of health sciences are committed to improving the lives of all working children living on Lebanese soil. Working together, we can reclaim their childhood and ensure that they do not become a lost generation."
Khoury highlighted that the production of research which provides a basis for intelligent government policy and interventions that are implementable and sustainable can form policy and practice.
In his turn, Minister of Labor, Camille Abou Sleiman mentioned that some efforts will be extended towards the regulation of foreign workers’ market and seasonal work such as agriculture, Abou Sleiman said that this study will be shared with other ministers to agree on future steps.
The Report’s Findings
While conveying the report’s findings, Dr. Rima Habib, Chair of the Environmental Health Department in the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) said that among children working in Syrian refugee camps, nearly 75 percent work in the field of agriculture under dangerous conditions. Around 51 percent of children in Syrian refugee camps in the Bekaa Valley who don't attend school reported ‘work’ as the main barrier for education. Adding that a large proportion of the children (males 43 percent, 41 percent females, ) reported that they have been insulted at the workplace and that these children are starting jobs, on average, before they reach age 11, mainly in agriculture, one third suffer injuries at work, and many have been beaten and threatened. Out of over 4,300 children interviewed, 50 percent are not going to school because they need to work and 30 percent have been injured on the job.
The Report’s Objective
The report aimed at highlighting the vulnerability and critical situation children is experiencing in the camps after the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that Lebanon has disproportionately felt the impact of this crisis and currently has the highest number of refugees per capita of any country in the world. With 341,234 individuals, the Bekaa region in eastern Lebanon has the highest concentration of Syrian refugees in the country.
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