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PICS: Syrian children are breadwinners in Lebanon

06 June 2016, 13:03

Beirut – Thirteen-year-old Ali Rajab is on his feet an average of 12 hours a day, cleaning, filling perfume bottles and helping sell mobile phones at the shop in Beirut where he works.

Still, he prefers it to his previous, more physically demanding jobs, which included even longer hours pushing a vegetable and fruit cart and making supermarket home deliveries.

Rajab has been working since he arrived in Lebanon two years ago after fleeing war in his Syrian hometown of Aleppo with his parents and six siblings.

More than 1.1 million Syrians have sought refuge here since the start of the 2011 uprising, more than half of them children. The UN's children agency, UNICEF, says there are 2.8 million children out of school in the region, and child refugees are particularly at risk of exploitation and abuse, with large numbers having no choice but to go to work.

Syrian street vendor Ali Hamadah, who fled with his family from Aleppo, Syria, sells tissues for drivers in Beirut, Lebanon. (Bilal Hussein, AP)

They sell flowers and other trinkets on the street, they work as shoe shiners and in construction and other jobs.

"I like my new work because it is easy and does not require much physical effort, and I am sheltered from the summer heat and winter cold," said Rajab, who earns about $8 a day — or $250 a month.

Some, like 15-year-old Mohannad al-Ashram, are forced to become breadwinners for their families. His father died two years ago in Syria from an illness, and since arriving in Lebanon two and a half years ago, he has worked at a small supermarket to pay the rent for the tiny apartment where he and his mother and three sisters live.

"Sometimes I get very tired but I soldier on," he said. "All I think about is my work now."

Syrian refugee Nermin Abrouch, 8, who fled her hometown Aleppo, Syria with her family, poses for a photograph as she makes a living by selling flowers on the Mediterranean Sea waterfront promenade in Beirut. (Bilal Hussein, AP)

Syrian refugee Ibrahim al-Abd, 15, who fled with his family from Deir el-Zour, Syria, trims plants on a street in downtown Beirut. (Bilal Hussein, AP)

Syrian refugee Mohammed Hassan, 8, who fled with his family from Idlib, Syria, rearranges fruits on display for sale at a market in the Palestinian refugee camp of Sabra in Beirut. (Bilal Hussein, AP)

A Syrian refugee boy who fled his home in Syria, works as a mechanic, in the town of Taanayel, in the eastern Bekaa valley, Lebanon. (Bilal Hussein, AP)

Syrian refugee Ahmed Abrouch, 8, who fled with his family from Aleppo, Syria, makes a living by selling flowers on the Mediterranean Sea waterfront promenade in Beirut, Lebanon. (Bilal Hussein, AP)

- AP

Tags un lebanon

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