Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Yemen

Child Labor and Forced Labor Reports

Yemen

2016 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor:

Minimal Advancement

In 2016, Yemen made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Ministry of Education worked with UNICEF to rehabilitate schools and set up temporary learning facilities to allow 1.7 million children to access education. However, children in Yemen are engaged in the worst forms of child labor, including in fishing and armed conflict. Due to the ongoing armed conflict with the Houthi-Saleh rebels, the internationally recognized Republic of Yemen Government remained in exile in Saudi Arabia for the majority of this period and had limited operational control of its ministries in Yemen. As a result, it was unable to enforce the minimum age protections of the law or to provide demobilization and rehabilitation services to children who have been recruited and used by non-state armed groups in armed conflict.

Expand All

Children in Yemen engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in fishing and armed conflict.(1-7) According to the 2010 National Child Labor Survey, the majority of working children were in the agricultural and domestic work sectors.(1) Table 1 provides key indicators on children’s work and education in Yemen.

Table 1. Statistics on Children’s Work and Education

Children

Age

Percent

Working (% and population)

5 to 14

13.6 (834,866)

Working children by sector

 

 

Agriculture

 

70.0

Industry

 

2.2

Services

 

27.8

Attending School (%)

5 to 14

68.0

Combining Work and School (%)

7 to 14

10.3

Primary Completion Rate (%)

 

69.2

Source for primary completion rate: Data from 2013, published by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2016.(8)
Source for all other data: Understanding Children’s Work Project’s analysis of statistics from National Child Labor Survey, 2010.(9)

Based on a review of available information, Table 2 provides an overview of children’s work by sector and activity.

Table 2. Overview of Children’s Work by Sector and Activity

Sector/Industry

Activity

Agriculture

Farming, activities unknown (2, 10)

Fishing,† activities unknown (1, 2, 11)

Hunting, activities unknown (1)

Industry

Quarrying and mining (1, 2, 11)

Construction,† activities unknown (1)

Services

Street work, including {Fares, 2010 #124;ILO, November 2012 #143}begging and scavenging garbage (1, 2, 11-14)

Working in auto shops (2, 11)

Domestic work† (1, 10)

Selling goods in stores (1)

Voluntarily recruited children used in hostilities by state armed groups (2, 4)

Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡

Commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking (2, 3, 11, 15, 16)

Use in illicit activities, including in drug trafficking (16)

Domestic work, begging, and working in small shops, each as a result of human trafficking (16)

Forced recruitment of children by non-state armed groups for use in armed conflict (2-7)

† Determined by national law or regulation as hazardous and, as such, relevant to Article 3(d) of ILO C. 182.
‡ Child labor understood as the worst forms of child labor per se under Article 3(a)–(c) of ILO C. 182.

The civil war in Yemen continued throughout 2016. Republic of Yemen Government officials traveled intermittently from Saudi Arabia to Yemen, mostly Aden, but were unable to establish a sustained presence in the country.(2) The Republic of Yemen Government also had limited operational control over its ministries and remained unable to enforce regulations.(2)

Reports indicate that, due to economic hardships, commercial sexual exploitation of children increased. Girls are trafficked within Yemen to hotels in Aden, Sana’a, Ta’iz, and other cities for commercial sexual exploitation.(16) There is evidence that Yemeni children, mostly boys, migrate to Sana’a, Aden, and Saudi Arabia, where they are engaged in forced labor in domestic work, begging, or working in small shops. Tourists, including those from Saudi Arabia, enter into temporary marriages with Yemeni girls, which is a form of commercial sexual exploitation.(16) Limited evidence points to the existence of chattel slavery, as children are sold and inherited as property in the al-Hudaydah and al-Mahwit governorates.(16)

Various armed groups recruited and used child soldiers, including the Houthis, the Houthi-affiliated Popular Committees, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, tribal militias, and government forces.(2-4, 7, 17) Children served as checkpoint guards or fighters.(4) Child soldiers on all sides of the conflict likely received payments, meals, and qat, a mild narcotic that is legal in Yemen, in exchange for their service.(2, 4) Limited evidence suggests that boys between the ages of 12 and 15 who are married in northern tribal regions are considered adults, and therefore are obligated to show their allegiance to their tribes by participating in the internal conflict, including through fighting or serving as guards. Some child soldiers were subjected to rape when captured by opposing warring groups in Aden.(2)

Enrollment rates in schools have been seriously affected by the internal conflict in Yemen, high levels of violence, and internal displacement.(18) According to UNICEF, in the 2015–2016 academic year, 1,600 schools remained closed and approximately 2.2 million school-aged children were out of school.(5)

Among the Muhamasheen (“marginalized”) minority group, generally of sub-Saharan African origin, illiteracy rates are high and child labor in the form of begging is prevalent.(12) Syrian refugee children are also engaged in begging.(19)

Yemen has ratified most key international conventions concerning child labor (Table 3).

Table 3. Ratification of International Conventions on Child Labor

Convention

Ratification

ILO C. 138, Minimum Age

ILO C. 182, Worst Forms of Child Labor

UN CRC

UN CRC Optional Protocol on Armed Conflict

UN CRC Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography

Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons

 

 

The Republic of Yemen Government has established laws and regulations related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 4). However, gaps exist in Yemen’s legal framework to adequately protect children from child labor.

Table 4. Laws and Regulations on Child Labor

Standard

Meets International Standards: Yes/No

Age

Legislation

Minimum Age for Work

Yes

14

Section 5 of Ministerial Order No. 11 of 2013 (20)

Minimum Age for Hazardous Work

Yes

18

Section 7 of Ministerial Order No. 11 of 2013 (20)

Identification of Hazardous Occupations or Activities Prohibited for Children

Yes

 

Sections 7, 8, and 15 of Ministerial Order No. 11 of 2013 (20)

Prohibition of Forced Labor

No

 

Section 26 of Ministerial Order No. 11 of 2013 (21)

Prohibition of Child Trafficking

No

 

Section 26 of Ministerial Order No. 11 of 2013; Article 248 of the Penal Code (21, 22)

Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

No

 

Articles 147 and 163 of the Child Rights Law; Articles 272-274 and 279 of the Penal Code (22, 23)

Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities

Yes

 

Section 24 of Ministerial Order No. 11 of 2013; Articles 148 and 162 of the Child Rights Law (21, 23)

Minimum Age for Military Recruitment

 

 

 

State Compulsory

N/A*

 

 

State Voluntary

Yes

18

Article 149 of the Child Rights Law (23)

Non-State Compulsory

No

 

 

Compulsory Education Age

Yes

15‡

Article 18 of the General Education Law (24)

Free Public Education

Yes

 

Article 87 of the Child Rights Law (23)

* No conscription (25)
‡ Age calculated based on available information

Research did not find any legal prohibition of debt bondage and slavery. The legal framework does not appear to explicitly prohibit forced labor.

Research could not determine whether the legal framework adequately prohibits using, procuring, or offering a child in pornography and pornographic performances, or whether it prohibits using a child in prostitution, because a public version of Ministerial Order No. 11 of 2013, which replaced Ministerial Order No. 56 of 2004 containing some protections, was not available.

Based on available information, Ministerial Order No. 11 of 2013 does not appear to explicitly include all phases of child trafficking, such as harboring, transporting, and transferring children for exploitation.(21)

Research did not discover any law to establish 18 as the minimum age for recruitment by non-state armed groups.

The Republic of Yemen Government has established institutional mechanisms for the enforcement of laws and regulations on child labor, including its worst forms (Table 5). However, gaps in labor law and criminal law enforcement remain.

Table 5. Agencies Responsible for Child Labor Law Enforcement

Organization/Agency

Role

Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor’s Child Labor Unit

Enforce child labor laws, conduct inspections, inform the Ministry of the Interior of any violations, and refer children found during inspections to appropriate social services. Receive complaints of child labor.(11)

Ministry of the Interior

Enforce child labor laws. Police agencies within the Ministry of the Interior handle human trafficking investigations.(11)

Ministry of Justice

Enforce child labor laws and prosecute and adjudicate child labor cases.(11)

Ministry of Human Rights, Ministry of Legal Affairs, Parliament, and the Social Fund for Development

Maintain supporting roles in combating child trafficking.(11)

 

As of late November 2016, the internationally recognized Republic of Yemen Government reestablished a steady presence in Aden, as well as an intermittent presence in some other governorates. However, it was unable to return to the capital Sana’a or fully reestablish the rule of law in the territory it holds.(17)

Labor Law Enforcement

In 2016, labor law enforcement agencies in Yemen did not take actions to combat child labor, including its worst forms. The Republic of Yemen Government was unable to enforce child labor laws due to the civil war.(2) No funding and training were provided for labor inspection. There was no mechanism to receive child labor complaints.(2)

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor’s General Administration of Labor Inspection does not have the authority to enforce child labor laws in agriculture and domestic work.(26)

Criminal Law Enforcement

In 2016, criminal law enforcement agencies in Yemen did not take actions to combat the worst forms of child labor.(2)

The Republic of Yemen Government has established mechanisms to coordinate its efforts to address child labor, including its worst forms (Table 6).

Table 6. Key Mechanisms to Coordinate Government Efforts on Child Labor

Coordinating Body

Role & Description

National Steering Committee to Combat Child Labor

Coordinate child labor issues in Yemen. Comprises representatives from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, other state agencies, ILO-IPEC, and local NGOs.(11)

Technical Committee for Combating Trafficking in Persons

Develop a national strategy to combat human trafficking.(27)

National Network for Child Protection

Implement training programs and media awareness campaigns, and advocate for progress on children’s issues.(11)

Joint Technical Committee to Prevent Recruitment of Children in the Yemeni Armed Forces

Implement and monitor the Action Plan to end and prevent the recruitment of children by the Yemeni Armed Forces. Comprises the Ministry of Defense, the Higher Council for Motherhood and Childhood, the Civil Status and Registration Authority, and UN representatives.(28)

The Republic of Yemen Government has established policies related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 7).

Table 7. Key Policies Related to Child Labor

Policy

Description

Action Plan to End and Prevent the Recruitment of Children by the Yemeni Armed Forces

Ensures that national laws comply with international standards, prohibit the recruitment and use of children in armed forces, investigate allegations of violations, and facilitate UN access to monitor compliance.(29) Due to political instability, the Republic of Yemen Government could not implement the Action Plan in 2016.(2)

Although the Republic of Yemen Government has adopted the Action Plan to End and Prevent the Recruitment of Children, research found no evidence of a policy on other worst forms of child labor.

In 2016, the Republic of Yemen Government participated in programs that include the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor, including its worst forms (Table 8).

Table 8. Key Social Programs to Address Child Labor

Program

Description

Child Protection Activities

UNICEF-funded programs designed to provide psychosocial support, including access to sports and arts, in community-based and mobile centers.(30) In 2016, UNICEF provided psychosocial support to approximately half a million children in child-friendly spaces in 18 governorates.(31)

Educational Activities

UNICEF-funded programs, conducted in cooperation with the Republic of Yemen Government, that provide educational support activities and services.(30) In 2016, UNICEF worked with the Ministry of Education to rehabilitate schools and set up temporary learning schools to allow 1.7 million children to access education.(31)

 

Research found no programs intended to remove, rehabilitate, and reintegrate children engaged in armed conflict.(32) Although Yemen has programs that target child labor, the scope of these programs is insufficient to fully address the extent of the problem, particularly in fishing.

Based on the reporting above, suggested actions are identified that would advance the elimination of child labor, including its worst forms, in Yemen (Table 9).

Table 9. Suggested Government Actions to Eliminate Child Labor, Including its Worst Forms

Area

Suggested Action

Year(s) Suggested

Legal Framework

Accede to the Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons.

2013 – 2016

 

Ensure that debt bondage, slavery, and all phases of child trafficking are criminally prohibited.

2015 – 2016

 

Make Ministerial Order No. 11 of 2013 publicly available.

2015 – 2016

 

Ensure that the law is sufficiently comprehensive to prohibit using, procuring, and offering a child for prostitution, as well as child pornography and pornographic performances.

2015 – 2016

 

Ensure that the law criminally prohibits the recruitment of children under 18 into non-state armed groups.

2016

 

Enforcement

Ensure that the labor inspectorate has the capacity to enforce labor laws, including through reestablishing a mechanism to receive child labor complaints.

2015 – 2016

 

Ensure that labor inspectors have proper funding and training to conduct inspections.

2009 – 2016

 

Ensure that authorities can enforce minimum age protections in all sectors in which the worst forms of child labor are prevalent, including in agriculture and domestic work.

2009 – 2016

 

Ensure that criminal law enforcement agencies can enforce child labor laws.

2015 – 2016

 

Government Policies

Implement the Action Plan to End and Prevent the Recruitment of Children by Yemeni Armed Conflict.

2009 – 2016

 

Adopt a policy that addresses all relevant worst forms of child labor, such as human trafficking.

2009 – 2016

 

Social Programs

Expand programs to improve children’s access to education.

2013 – 2016

 

Institute a rehabilitation and reintegration program for children engaged in armed conflict and children involved in other worst forms of child labor, including fishing.

2011 – 2016

 

1.         ILO. Working Children in the Republic of Yemen: The Results of the 2010 National Child Labour Survey. Geneva; November 2012. http://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/download.do?type=document&id=21355.

2.         U.S. Yemen Affairs Unit- Jedda. reporting, January 24, 2017.

3.         Human Rights Watch. Yemen: Free Captive Children. Beirut; June 2, 2016. https://www.hrw.org/print/290517.

4.         Al-Sakkaf, N. "Economic hardship forces Yemen's children to join war." Aljazeera [online] 2016 [cited October 30, 2016]; http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/01/economic-hardship-forces-yemen-children-join-war-160113072753967.html.

5.         UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Situation of Human Rights in Yemen. Geneva; August 4, 2016. Report No. A/HRC/33/38. https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G16/172/38/PDF/G1617238.pdf?OpenElement.

6.         Ghobari, M. "Yemen government says to free 54 children captured in fighting with Houthis." Reuters, June 7, 2016 [cited February 17, 2017]; http://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-children-idUSKCN0YT20K.

7.         Abdul-Qassem, M. "More child soldiers fighting in Yemen war." The Arab Weekly, (49):13 (2016); http://www.thearabweekly.com/News-&-Analysis/4395/More-child-soldiers-fighting-in-Yemen-war.

8.         UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary education, both sexes (%). Accessed December 16, 2016; http://data.uis.unesco.org/. Data provided is the gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary education. This measure is a proxy measure for primary completion. This ratio is the total number of new entrants in the last grade of primary education, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the population at the theoretical entrance age to the last grade of primary education. A high ratio indicates a high degree of current primary education completion. The calculation includes all new entrants to the last grade (regardless of age). Therefore, the ratio can exceed 100 percent, due to over-aged and under-aged children who enter primary school late/early and/or repeat grades. For more information, please see “Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions” in the Reference Materials section of this report.

9.         UCW. Analysis of Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Statistics from National Household or Child Labor Surveys. Original data from National Child Labour Survey, 2010. Analysis received December 15, 2016. Reliable statistical data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms. As a result, statistics on children’s work in general are reported in this chart, which may or may not include the worst forms of child labor.  For more information,  please see “Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions” in the Reference Materials section of this report.

10.       ILO. The twin challenges of child labour and youth employment in the Arab States: An overview. Geneva; January 27, 2016. http://www.ilo.org/ipec/Informationresources/WCMS_IPEC_PUB_27702/lang--en/index.htm.

11.       U.S. Yemen Affairs Unit- Jedda. reporting, January 14, 2016.

12.       UN General Assembly - Human Rights Council. Situation of Human Rights in Yemen A/HRC/30/31; September 7, 2015. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/YEIndex.aspx.

13.       Qaed, S. "With his wheelbarrow, young boy supports himself and family." Yemen Times, July 29, 2013 [cited December 30, 2015]; http://www.yementimes.com/en/1698/report/2687/With-his-wheelbarrow-young-boy-supports-himself-and-family.htm.

14.       Al-Karimi, K. "Starving Yemenis resort to eating rubbish." Al Jazeera, January 8, 2017 [cited February 17, 2017]; http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/01/starving-yemenis-resort-eating-rubbish-170102124800887.html.

15.       Shakdam, C. "The sex trade in Yemen: How Al-Qaeda makes millions by trafficking children." The Duran [online] September 11, 2016 [cited http://theduran.com/sex-trade-yemen-al-qaeda-makes-millions-trafficking-children/.

16.       U.S. Department of State. "Special Case: Yemen," in Trafficking in Persons Report- 2016 Washington, DC; June 30, 2016; http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/258882.pdf.

17.       U.S. Department of State official. Personal communication with USDOL official. April 11, 2017.

18.       Al-Mofti, AT. "I have a dream … to go back to school." World Bank - Blog September 8, 2015 [cited December 30, 2015]; http://blogs.worldbank.org/arabvoices/i-have-a-dream-to-go-back-to-school.

19.       U.S. Department of State. "Yemen," in Trafficking in Persons Report- 2015; July 27, 2015; http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/245365.pdf.

20.       ILO Committee of Experts. Direct Request concerning Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) - Yemen (Ratification: 2000) Published: 2014; accessed December 29, 2015; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:13100:0::NO:13100:P13100_COMMENT_ID:3137082:NO.

21.       ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention, 2014 (No. 182) Yemen (ratification: 2000) Published: 2015; accessed November 13, 2015; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:13100:0::NO:13100:P13100_COMMENT_ID:3188451:NO.

22.       Government of Yemen. Penal Code as Amended, Law No. 12, enacted 1994.

23.       Government of Yemen. Law No. 45 of 2002 on the Rights of the Child, enacted November 19, 2002. [Source on file].

24.       Government of Yemen. Law No. 45 of 1992 on General Education, enacted December 31, 1992. [Source on file].

25.       Child Soldiers International. Louder Than Words: An agenda for action to end state use of child soldiers. London; September 2012. https://www.child-soldiers.org/shop/louder-than-words-1.

26.       ILO. Yemen Country Profile; accessed November 13, 2015; http://www.ilo.org/labadmin/info/WCMS_150921/lang--en/index.htm.

27.       UNDP. "Violence against women is neither inevitable nor acceptable " United Nations Development Programme [online] March 8, 2013 [cited January 8, 2014]; http://www.undp.org/content/rbas/en/home/ourperspective/ourperspectivearticles/2013/03/08/violence-against-women-is-neither-inevitable-nor-acceptable.html.

28.       UN General Assembly - Human Rights Council. Situation of human rights in Yemen (A/HRC/27/44): Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; August 27, 2014.

29.       UN Office of the Special Representative to the Secretary-General on Children in Armed Conflict. Children, Not Soldiers: Yemen Signs Action Plan to End Recruitment and Use of Children by Armed Forces; May 14, 2014. https://childrenandarmedconflict.un.org/press-release/yemen-signs-action-plan/.

30.       UNICEF. "Yemen Crisis Humanitarian Situation Report (2-15 December 2015)." December 15, 2015 [cited December 30, 2015]; http://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/unicef-yemen-crisis-humanitarian-situation-report-2-15-december-2015.

31.       UNICEF. Yemen Humanitarian Situation Report; December 2016. https://www.unicef.org/appeals/files/UNICEF_Yemen_Humanitarian_Situation_Report_Dec_2016.pdf.

32.       U.S. Department of State official. Personal communication with USDOL official. June 3, 2014.

Download ILAB's Sweat & Toil app today. #endChildLabor