Drought, conflict and poverty force more and more Somali children into work

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Wiil garaash ka shaqeynaya/CaliNuur Salaad/Ergo Photo | Young boy working in a garage/CaliNuur Salaad/Ergo

Radio Ergo 13 June, 2017 MUQDISHO


(ERGO) - Mohamed Abdi Hussein, 13, sent $30 last month to his family in Qansadhere, southern Somalia, from his earnings at a restaurant in Mogadishu’s Hamarweyne district.

The boy came to the city after his father migrated to Yemen six month ago and has not been heard from since. His mother and six younger sisters have been unable to make a living on their farm because they had no money to buy seeds despite the receiving some rainfall.

Qansahdere residents are suffering from severe food shortages and is not accessible to aid agencies due to a blockade imposed by Al-shabab forces.

Mohamed does not have a day off and works at least 10 hours a day in the restaurant, cleaning table and washing up. He is working for an agreed 40,000 Somali shillings ($2) a day. The loan he took to send the money to his family is now being deducted from his wages, leaving him almost nothing to live on.   The only benefit he gets is breakfast and lunch at the restaurant.

He lives in Entoy IDP camp in Daynile district, some distance from his work, with some other families from Qansahdere.

Despite the passage through parliament of child protection laws in November 2014 prohibiting the employment of children under the age of 18, huge numbers of children are working. Many of them suffer poor conditions and even abuse.

Abshir Salad Ali, 12, who washes vehicles, told Radio Ergo he often does not get paid by vehicle owners. “This job is very risky because explosions occur along the roads, and we still get mistreatment from our customers,” he complained.

Abshir lives with his parents and four-year-old-sister in Weydow camp on the outskirts of Mogadishu. They are dependent on the 84,000 Somali Shillings ($4) he makes on a good day. The family fled Kurtunwarey district in Lower Shabelle region three months ago due to conflict.

The general director of the ministry of labour and social affairs, Mohamed Adde Muktar, told Radio Ergo that the circumstances in the country with conflict and poverty make it hard to implement the law banning child labour.

Sagal Ali Mohamud, head of children’s affairs with the NGO Tubta Toosan said the drought crisis and massive displacement of families had forced many more children into work in Mogadishu in the past six months.  Tubta Toosan has conducted interviews with 617 families whose children are working. This overall numbers of children at work are not known.

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