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Atualizado em: Sexta-feira, 22 2018 junho
Questões de desenvolvimento

Pobreza força crianças refugiadas sírias no trabalho

Conteúdo por: Voz da América

TRIPOLI, LÍBANO -

Quando Mounir, de 13 anos, fugiu da Síria para o Líbano com sua família depois de sobreviver a um ataque de foguete que quase os matou, ele pensou que estaria seguro. Na verdade, ele havia trocado uma forma de perigo por outra - assédio sexual e abuso verbal.

Com seu pai incapaz de trabalhar por motivos de saúde, Mounir teve que ganhar dinheiro para sua família vendendo doces na cidade de Tripoli - um emprego que o manteve nas ruas até a 11pm, ganhando cerca de 12,000 libras libanesas (8) por dia.

"Foi muito hostil - as pessoas costumavam me chamar de 'cão sírio' e outras coisas", disse Mounir - não seu nome verdadeiro - à Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"Eu me machucava muito, às vezes eu apenas me sentava e chorava. Era humilhante."

Grupos de ajuda afirmam que mais e mais crianças sírias, como Mounir, estão tendo que trabalhar à medida que a pobreza se intensifica entre os cerca de 10 milhões de refugiados que vivem no Líbano - cerca de um quarto da população do país.

A proporção de crianças refugiadas sírias que trabalham no Líbano aumentou para 7 por cento, de 4 por cento no final do 2016, de acordo com pesquisa do Conselho Dinamarquês de Refugiados (RDC), divulgada no início da Fundação Thomson Reuters.

"É triste dizer que isso só vai piorar", disse Benedict Nixon, porta-voz do Conselho. "Enquanto as famílias não estiverem gerando renda, as taxas de trabalho infantil
continuar a aumentar. "

As Nações Unidas e agências de ajuda alertaram no mês passado que uma "lacuna crítica" no financiamento para refugiados sírios e comunidades anfitriãs poderia levar a cortes nos serviços vitais.

Globalmente, conflitos e desastres provocados pelo clima levaram mais crianças a trabalhar na agricultura, o que representa 71 por cento de todo o trabalho infantil, de acordo com a Organização das Nações Unidas para Alimentação e Agricultura (FAO).

"Households in Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon, for example, are prone to resort to child labour to ensure the survival of their family," the FAO said in a statement released on Tuesday to mark World Day Against Child Labor.

"Breaking Point"

Tanya Chapuisat, spokeswoman for the U.N. children's agency UNICEF, said Syrian families in Lebanon often had no choice but to send their children to work.

"Families are at their breaking point when it comes to debt, and so to be able to get their basic needs they are sending kids to work," she said.

Mounir's mother Hasnaa says she feels intense guilt but has no choice but to send Mounir and his 17-year-old brother out to work rather, depriving them of an education.

The rent alone on the small garage where the family lives is 280,000 Lebanese pounds a month.

"It feels like nothing is enough. Everything we have goes into paying for rent," she said.

More than three quarters of the refugees in Lebanon are living below the poverty line and struggling to survive on less than $4 per day, according to UNICEF, and less than half the Syrian children in the country attend school.

Mounir knows his life is not like most 13-year-olds'.

"A kid should be living a life of dignity and respect with no humiliation," he said.

Clutching his hands, he recalled the times when men on the street would approach him for sex.

"They tried to do bad things. I would not accept," he said, as he stared down at the ground.

"This has happened more than once to me on the street. They were all men. Of course I was scared of this. They would ask me to come with them and I would tell them I didn't want to go."

Even at 13, he said he was often the oldest on the streets, where children as young as five worked alongside him.

Last month he found work closer to home at a barber shop, where he earns 30,000 Lebanese pounds a week sweeping and helping the owner - though he still works 10-hour days.

His favorite subject at school before Syria's seven-year war cut his education short was math, and he dreams of going back to learn how to read and write.

"I want to become a mechanic. I like fixing things like motors," he said with a big, dimpled smile.

($1 = 1,505.0000 Lebanese pounds)

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