On the 11th of June, the Ministry of Labor in cooperation with the ILO (International Labor Organization) and UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) held a press conference entitled: “The International Day against Child Labor 2013: from policy to practice”. The Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Labor Hamada Abu Nijmeh announced that the Ministry has signed two significant agreements with the ILO, one to combat child labor, and the other one is to set the minimum working age in Jordan in accordance with international standards. He noted that the minimum working age is 16 years, while the fields of work for adolescents between 16 and 18 are regulated as per studied standards guaranteeing that the activity and the working hours do not pose a risk to their health or well-being.
Abu Nijmeh revealed that the Ministry will activate a hotline to receive complaints and tips about the involvement of underage children in labor, adding that the hotline will receive calls from citizens around the clock.
The last child labor statistic by the Jordanian Department of Statistics in 2008 revealed that the number of child laborers was 30,000, he said, adding that recent statistics show that there are nearly 160,000 illegal Syrian workers in Jordan, 30,000 of which are children, which means that around half of the working children in Jordan are Syrians. Most of these children are residing in the northern region of the Kingdom, mainly working in agriculture. Abu Nejmeh stressed that working in agriculture and farming poses a serious threat to the health of children that are not ready to be exposed to pesticides, poisonous plants and insects at their age.
“The Ministry is working hard to curb child labor through imposing penalties on businesses that engage child labor and closing them down until correcting their legal position”, said Abu Nijmeh.
“We have a policy framework to uproot child labor as we have investigated the reasons that drive children into this work and we found that poverty and unemployment of the father are what force a child to work,” Abu Nijmeh said, noting that “this has become a main cause of suffering for Syrian refugee families, when some of the fathers ask their employees to employ their children as well in order to secure better income for their families”.