HARD LESSONS: Children in Aleppo as young as 10 years old are increasingly spending their days performing menial labor in Aleppo city, where a suffocating encirclement of rebel-held areas and the deaths of able-bodied young men have left families with no other choice than to send their kids to work.
“Children in Aleppo are working—smuggling gas, performing services [i.e. cleaning, preparing tea] in the headquarters of some military brigades, selling tobacco, and generally staying totally away from education in order to make money,” Mohammed Nur al-Halabi, a citizen journalist in Aleppo, told Syria Direct Wednesday.
Above, 12-year-old Mahmoud Aftal gathers plastic from garbage dumps in Aleppo city. He tells photographer Zein a-Rifai from the pro-opposition Aleppo Media Center that he dreamed of becoming a teacher before being forced to leave school to work in the dump.
The phenomenon of child laborers in Aleppo city became widespread during the second half of 2013. That is when a number of local men lost their jobs, and factories and shops stopped production following continuous regime air raids, residents of the city were quoted by pro-opposition Sirajpress as saying.
“My father died from a plane bombing, and I have four sisters and my mom,” a 10-year old child told Sirajpress’s correspondent. “I sell biscuits, moving from one street to another, so I can buy some necessities for my family…no one is helping us.”
In related news, UNICEF said in a January 6 statement that at least 670,000 children have experienced disruptions to their schooling because of fighting and school closures in A-Raqqa, Deir e-Zor and Aleppo provinces.
Unspecified groups carried out a total of 68 attacks on schools across Syria in 2014, the statement read, which “reportedly killed and wounded hundreds of children.”
“There are indications that some attacks may have been deliberate,” the UN agency concluded.
-January 14, 2015
-Photo courtesy of AMC
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