Middle East & North Africa
2012 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor
2012 Regional Outlook
- Improved legal and policy frameworks.
Challenges and existing gaps:
- Economic and political instability as a risk factor for an increase in child labor.
- Lack of data on the prevalence of the worst forms of child labor, which may impede implementation of child labor elimination efforts.
- Lack of effective enforcement of child labor laws.
2012 Assessment Breakdown
In the Middle East and North Africa there are 9.2 million child laborers. While some governments in the region aim to address the worst forms of child labor through their legal and policy frameworks, as well as data collection and dissemination efforts, economic and political instability and insecurity have affected the nature of child labor across the region.
In Iraq, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Yemen children continue to be directly engaged in armed conflict. Reports from Egypt and Tunisia suggest that due in large part to economic instability since the revolutions of 2011, there has been an increase in the number of children working on the street. In addition, street children in Egypt have been exploited as paid fighters during violent protests. In Jordan, Syrian refugee children work long hours in the informal economy in and around the refugee camps. Palestinian children in Lebanon are sometimes employed as guards at checkpoints within refugee camps. Continued instability may reduce the capacity of governments to address child labor issues within an environment of ongoing political transition and economic crisis. However, the full effects of instability and insecurity on child labor in the region are as yet unclear. Read More of the region summary
In 2012, countries in the region addressed child labor issues by strengthening their legal and policy frameworks. Bahrain ratified ILO Convention 138 and passed a new Labor Law, which increased the minimum age for work to 15 years. In the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority amended the Children's Law to include stiff penalties for child labor violations. The Government of Jordan approved its country's first national child labor strategy. In addition, the Government of Lebanon reconvened its National Steering Committee on Child Labor, which is coordinating government efforts to draft a National Action Plan and finalize a National Awareness Strategy to Combat the Worst Forms of Child Labor.
Some countries sought to reduce the child labor information gap. Both Egypt and Yemen increased the knowledge base by releasing results of national surveys on child labor. The Government of Jordan developed an automated web-based national child labor database. Morocco conducted research on children working in domestic service, a sector particularly troubling within its borders. However, in many countries, there is still a significant lack of information on child labor and on government efforts to combat it. For 7 of the 12 countries assessed in the region, there is a lack of data on the prevalence of the worst forms of child labor. This information deficit, along with the continued regional instability, impedes governments' ability to accurately target and effectively implement child labor elimination efforts, including intra-government coordination and enforcement of child labor laws.