Tue. Dec 7th, 2021

The proportion of Lebanese families sending children to work has increased sevenfold between April and October, the UN says.

The UN children’s agency has called on Lebanon to take urgent action to protect children after documenting a rise in child labor figures and food insecurity since April.

Children are hit hard by the country’s deep economic crisis exacerbated by the global coronavirus pandemic, which left about eight out of 10 people poor and threatened the education of some 700,000 children, including 260,000 Lebanese, a UNICEF report on Tuesday said.

“Urgent action is needed to ensure that no child goes hungry, gets sick or has to work rather than receiving an education,” Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF’s representative in Lebanon, said on Tuesday.

“The staggering scale of the crisis must be a wake-up call.”

The multifaceted crisis, rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement, has led to a collapse in the provision of basic services such as electricity and water, the UN agency added.

Nearly half of households had insufficient drinking water by October, the report said, with one-third citing cost as the main factor.

UNICEF’s report also noted that less than three out of 10 families received social assistance, leading to them taking “desperate measures”.

The percentage of Lebanese families sending children to work increased sevenfold to seven percent between April and October, the report said.

Lebanon is struggling with its worst financial crisis ever with nearly 80 percent of the population living below the poverty line.

UNICEF followed up in October with the more than 800 families they surveyed in April and found that living conditions had deteriorated dramatically since then.

“The future of an entire generation of children is at stake,” the report said.

‘Suicidal thoughts’

The survey found 53 percent of families had at least one child who skipped a meal in October, compared with 37 percent in April.

“The percentage of families … who sent children to work has risen to 12 percent, from nine percent,” UNICEF added.

Nearly 34 percent of children who needed primary health care in October did not receive it, up from 28 percent in April.

“Life is very difficult, it’s getting harder every day,” Hanan, a 29-year-old mother, was quoted as saying by UNICEF.

“I sent my four children to school without food today. I have suicidal thoughts and the only thing stopping me from doing so is my children. I feel so bad for them. ”

Amal, a 15-year-old who works as a fruit picker in southern Lebanon, said she had to accept the job to support her family.

“Our parents need the money we earn. What would they do if we stopped working now? ” she was quoted as follows.

“When I look to the future, I see that life is getting harder.”

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