September 6, 2017 / 7:35 PM / 10 months ago

U.N. seeks to protect young children from work on farms in Lebanon

BEIRUT (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - With child labor soaring in Lebanon following the outbreak of war in Syria, the United Nations published on Wednesday the first guide in Arabic to help farmers and officials seeking to protect them from risks like sexual abuse and injury.

Children as young as five, largely Syrian refugees and poor Lebanese, are missing out on school and harming their health by working on farms, especially in remote, rural regions like the Beqaa, it said.

“Abuse and exploitation is widespread,” Frank Hagemann, ILO’s deputy director for Arab States told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

More than 9 million, or almost one in 10 children in the Middle East and North Africa are child laborers, mostly working in agriculture, International Labor Organization (ILO) data shows.

“It has been fueled by the refugee influx, by the need of refugee families to earn a livelihood, by their economic misery,” Hagemann said.

Lebanon has more than one million Syrian refugees, including nearly 500,000 children, after a government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 2011 led to civil war, and Islamic State militants used the chaos to seize territory in Syria and Iraq.

The guide, co-written with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), includes information on the risks child laborers face, for example sexual abuse, contamination from pesticides and missing out on their right to education.

Reporting by Heba Kanso @hebakanso, Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit

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