Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Child Labour on the Rise in Opposition Areas

The war means that many under-age workers are now their families' bread-winners.
By Hazaa Adnan al-Hazaa
  • A child works with his father raising and selling poultry in Idlib. (Photo: Hazaa Adnan al-Hazaa)
    A child works with his father raising and selling poultry in Idlib. (Photo: Hazaa Adnan al-Hazaa)
  • Syrian children have been forced to leave school and work. (Photo: Hazaa Adnan al-Hazaa)
    Syrian children have been forced to leave school and work. (Photo: Hazaa Adnan al-Hazaa)
  • A child works in a carwash in the city of Kfar Nabel.  (Photo: Hazaa Adnan al-Hazaa)
    A child works in a carwash in the city of Kfar Nabel. (Photo: Hazaa Adnan al-Hazaa)
  • A child works at a gas station pumping fuel into cars and containers for customers. (Photo: Hazaa Adnan al-Hazaa)
    A child works at a gas station pumping fuel into cars and containers for customers. (Photo: Hazaa Adnan al-Hazaa)
  • A child works in a welding workshop. (Photo: Hazaa Adnan al-Hazaa)
    A child works in a welding workshop. (Photo: Hazaa Adnan al-Hazaa)
  • A child repairing a motorbike in a workshop in the village of Al-Rami. (Photo: Hazaa Adnan al-Hazaa)
    A child repairing a motorbike in a workshop in the village of Al-Rami. (Photo: Hazaa Adnan al-Hazaa)
  • A child tends to cattle in the village of Sarja. (Photo: Hazaa Adnan al-Hazaa)
    A child tends to cattle in the village of Sarja. (Photo: Hazaa Adnan al-Hazaa)
  • A child working in a car mechanic’s workshop in the city of Maarat al-Numan. (Photo: Hazaa Adnan al-Hazaa)
    A child working in a car mechanic’s workshop in the city of Maarat al-Numan. (Photo: Hazaa Adnan al-Hazaa)

Khalid is 12 years old and works as a shepherd in the village of Kafruma in Idlib’s countryside.

“My father is an opposition fighter, and he entrusted me with looking after his sheep,” he told Damascus Bureau.

“I had to leave school, but I don’t regret it. Most of the schools in my village have been shut anyway.”

Child labour is on the increase in Syria’s opposition-held areas. In Idlib governorate, the on-going war has forced many children to become family bread-winners.

Rajab, a 15-year-old from the city of Kfar Nabel, has been working as a blacksmith’s apprentice for the past four years.

“I wanted to learn a skill that would earn me a steady income so I could support my father after he lost his job,” the teenager said. “Studying at school won’t earn me a living. Besides, most people with academic qualifications in our area are jobless.”  

The most usual employment for children is in manual labour, such as working with electricians, blacksmiths and car mechanics and painters.

Mohammad, 13, works at a garage in his city of Maarrat al-Numan. His mother told Damascus Bureau she had no choice but to send him out to work after his father was martyred, so he could help her raise his younger siblings.

According to Syrian law, it is illegal for children under the age of 15 to work, but these laws are being ignored in opposition control areas.

Damascus Bureau’s Hazaa Adnan al-Hazaa took the above photos that document child labour in Idlib governorate.