Poverty for Syrian refugees in Lebanon could push children to marry and work

Updated 09 January 2018
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Poverty for Syrian refugees in Lebanon could push children to marry and work

BEIRUT: Nearly seven years into Syria’s civil war, Syrian refugees in neighboring Lebanon are becoming poorer, leaving children at risk of child labor and early marriage, aid organizations said on Tuesday.
A recent survey by the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF, UN’s World Food Programme, and refugee agency, UNHCR showed that Syrian refugees in Lebanon are more vulnerable now than they have been since the beginning of the crisis.
Struggling to survive, more than three quarters of the refugees in Lebanon now live on less than $4 per day, according to the survey which was based on data collected last year.
“The situation for Syrian refugees in Lebanon is actually getting worse — they are getting poorer. They are barely staying afloat,” Scott Craig, UNHCR spokesman in Lebanon, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Around 1.5 million refugees who fled Syria’s violence account for a quarter of Lebanon’s population.
The Lebanese government has long avoided setting up official refugee camps. So, many Syrians live in tented settlements, languishing in poverty and facing restrictions on legal residence or work.
“Child labor and early marriage are direct consequences of poverty,” Tanya Chapuizat, UNICEF spokeswoman in Lebanon said in a statement to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“We fear this (poverty) will lead to more children being married away or becoming breadwinners instead of attending school,” she said.
According to UNICEF, 5 percent of Syrian refugee children between 5-17 are working, and one in five Syrian girls and women aged between 15 and 25 is married.
Mike Bruce, a spokesman for the Norwegian Refugee Council, said without sufficient humanitarian aid and proper work Syrian families would increasingly fall into debt and more could turn to “negative coping mechanisms” like child labor and marriage.
Cold winter temperatures in Lebanon would also hurt refugees, he said.
“Refugees are less and less able to deal with each shock that they face and severe weather could be one of those shocks,” said Bruce.


Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

Updated 25 min 49 sec ago
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Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

  • Russian-backed regime forces try to retake villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters
  • The clashes also left 26 pro-regime forces dead in the north of Hama province

 

BEIRUT: At least 10 civilians and 35 combatants, mostly pro-regime forces, were killed on Saturday in clashes and airstrikes that erupted at dawn in northwestern Syria, a war monitor said.

The flare-up came as Russian-backed regime forces tried to retake two villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters earlier this month, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“Since this morning, the Syrian regime and allied fighters have launched five failed attempts to regain control of Jibine and Tal Maleh in northwestern Hama province,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

Syrian regime airstrikes killed nine opposition fighters, the war monitor said.

Ensuing clashes in the north of Hama province left 26 pro-regime forces dead, including eight who were killed in a mine explosion, the Observatory said.

In neighboring Idlib, regime airstrikes killed 10 civilians, including three children, the Observatory said.

The strikes hit the towns of Maaret Al-Numan and Al-Bara as well as the village of Al-Ftira, according to the war monitor.

The Idlib region of some 3 million people is supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal that Russia and Turkey signed in September.

But it was never fully implemented, as opposition refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarized zone.

In January, the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham alliance led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate extended its administrative control over the region, which includes most of Idlib province as well as adjacent slivers of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.

The Syrian regime and Russia have upped their bombardment of the region since late April, killing nearly 400 civilians, according to the Observatory.

Turkey said on Friday that it did not accept Russia’s “excuse” that it had no ability to stop the Syrian regime’s continued bombardments in the last opposition bastion of Idlib.

“In Syria, who are the regime’s guarantors? Russia and Iran,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told state news agency Anadolu in a televised interview.

“Thus we do not accept the excuse that ‘We cannot make the regime listen to us’,” he said.

His comments came as Turkey disagreed with Russia earlier this week after Moscow claimed a new cease-fire had been secured in the province following weeks of regime bombardments — a claim that was denied by Ankara.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-regime protests.

Russia launched a military intervention in support of the regime in 2015, helping its forces reclaim large parts of the country from opposition fighters and militants.