Child labor around the world has been slowly decreasing, but in Somalia it has been continuing to thrive, making it become one of the top countries with child laborers. From agriculture work to construction to even child soldiering, children are being forced into work over school completion. The families of these children are dealing with extreme poverty and are sometimes willing to give up their own children in order to earn money. Some of the children aren’t given up by their families but instead forced into labor and recruitment for armed conflict.
Children in this country of Africa are doing hard labor, forced into human trafficking, and being abducted to serve as soldiers. Child labor has many different aspects to it. The child laborers may start work because their family needs money or be forced into it. Different work children do include construction, agriculture, and services. Construction work includes digging, working in mines and quarries, and breaking up rocks for gravel (“Findings”). This work is difficult for grown men/women that undertake these tasks and for children they would be much more difficult.
These children also have to dig, herd livestock, thresh grain, and even fish (“Findings”). The laborers that take on these tasks have to complete work that farmers spend their whole life doing to make more money. The children who live in Africa do these tasks earn little money for the hard work they do and the money they do earn goes to food, education, family, etc. Child laborers have to complete services for money such as begging, selling cigarettes, shining shoes, and more (“Findings”).
These are examples of several jobs child laborers must endure to earn money or forced into work. Many children are forced into even more severe jobs such as child soldiering. Children who live in Somalia can face harder jobs than street work, farming, etc. They are used as young soldiers in Somalia’s civil war which has caused thousands of deaths including children and their families. Many children of Somalia have no home or place to go after their family dies in combat and are faced with no other option than to join the armed conflict recruitment.
Around 200,000 children have participated in armed conflict or have carried a gun un their lifetime (“Children in Conflict”). These children were seen carrying loaded guns all day long and one eyewitness stated “Some of them were as young as 11 – thin, malnourished, scary-looking boys with bloodshot eyes in tattered clothes” (Roble, Muhyadin Ahmed). Child soldiering has become one of the worst forms of child labor in the country of Somalia and many children have no other option but to become a soldier because of their extreme poverty.
Poverty affects people all over the globe; countries like Somalia face extreme poverty, to the point where children are given up by their families to earn little money. 40% of the people who reside in Somalia live in extreme poverty and in rural areas that number goes up to 50% (“Rural poverty in Somalia”). These families that face living in extreme poverty struggle to support their family and have to resort to giving up their children as a way to obtain more money. These children that are given up may be forced into forced labor, child soldiering, human trafficking, or becoming child brides (“Findings”).
Young children are trafficked to different continents and can possibly end up dying. Dozens of these victims are found in the Arabian Sea, many times with their hands tied and even with evidence of being shot (“Human Trafficking: Greed and the Trail of Death”). In Somalia, many families live in poverty and the children feel the effects from the little money their family has because they may be forced into child labor instead of attending school. Over the years, people around the world have seen the importance of education and have worked to get more children in school.
Although, many developing countries still struggle with kids attending schools as many families cannot afford it or schooling isn’t available near them. In the war torn country of Somalia, around 40% of children are working and 20% are combining both work and school (“Findings”). The civil war in Somalia has caused three-quarters of the schools to be shut down, destroyed, etc. and children don’t have an option for education. Almost half of the children in Somalia don’t receive basic education because the lack of teachers, schools, money, etc.
Another issue is that there are only 48% of certified teachers in certain places in Somalia and the teacher to student ratio is 33:1 (“Education in Somalia”). Many children have no other option but to forget about education and work to earn money their family needs. As shown, some children even have to focus on both education and their work. Young children work every day, doing jobs every day to earn little money even though there are laws against it. The issue is these laws are not enforced.
The Transitional Federal Charter has laws against forced child labor under the age of 18 but there is evidence of forced child labor everywhere in Somalia. One major issue of the laws in Somalia is the fact that there is no prohibition of using children in illicit activities (“Findings”). This means that there is not a law against using the children of Somalia in illegal activities such as the crucial issue of human trafficking, child prostitution, etc. The main reason these laws are not enforced or there is a lack of important laws is because Somalia’s government.
Mohamoud Ali Yusuf, head of child protection at UNICEF’s office in Bossaso, a city in northeast Somalia has said, “Institutions that used to protect children have collapsed because of the conflict and lack of central government over the last two decades” (Pflanz, Mike). The government in Somalia is very unstable but they are trying to improve it and make it functional once again (“A Country in Turmoil”). The unorganized government in the midst of a civil war isn’t focusing on the severe matter of child labor because they first need to be a stable government in order to help the children in need.
Although the government is spending it’s time trying to rebuild itself, they are making some effort to end child labor in Somalia. The leaders of Somalia tried to expand children’s rights such as outlawing the use of child soldiers, protection from abuse, etc. but many Somalian children will not see the benefits from these new laws (Guled, Abdi and Straziuso, Jason). The government is also trying to end child labor by improving the education of the children in Somalia. They want to give children easier access to education to stray them away from working (Roble, Muhyadin Ahmed).
They launched a program called “Go-2-School” that gives one million kids access to a free education. Although, this effort is not living up to their expectations as only 700,000 of the 1. 7 million elementary school age are even enrolled in school (Roble, Muhyadin Ahmed). Efforts are being made to put a stop to working children but there are slim results being seen. The government is facing hard times with their civil war and trying to stabilize themselves but they are still working towards stopping child labor. These children who work have many different jobs.
Some children do small tasks but still get paid very little. One girl, Halima Mohamed Ali, is a nanny for five children. She must wake up at five in the morning to make the children breakfast, cleaning, cooking, and putting them to sleep when it is time for bed at the end of her work day (Roble, Muhyadin Ahmed). This is just one example of the conditions these child laborers go through. For Halima, she only makes 50 dollars a month that her whole family needs (Roble, Muhyadin Ahmed). Many boys in Somalia are kidnapped off the streets, their homes, etc. to be used as workers or child soldiers.
Some of these males are taken by terrorist groups which are the top reason children of Somalia are used as soldiers in the civil war (“Findings”). The conditions of children’s jobs depend on the work they do. Some get lucky with their occupations and don’t face the harsh conditions soldiers do. Many kids also have to take care of livestock, do construction, etc. that is very difficult work. Organizations across Somalia and the world know how difficult these conditions can be to work in so they making hard efforts to end the labor children in Somalia go through.
As child soldiering continues to increase in Somalia during their civil war, there has been many organizations trying to eradicate the act of using children as soldiers and workers. One organization is called “Children, Not Soldiers” which the Federal Government of Somalia along with seven other countries participated in. These eight countries made action plans to stop the use of child soldiering (“Children, Not Soldiers”). One country, Chad, completed everything on their action plan and was removed from the list of countries, a great accomplishment.
Somalia has made some small steps towards completing their action plan, including trying to expand children’s rights and created a child protection unit within the Somalian army (“Children, Not Soldiers”). Many other organizations around the globe have been fighting to end the use of children as soldiers, workers, etc. and there is evidence of some organizations making an impact on the issue of child labor. The goal for these organizations is for the decrease of child labor in the future, especially in one of the top countries that use children as laborers, Somalia.