Syrian children harvest onions from an agriculture field in the town of Rayak in the Bekaa valley, central Lebanon, June 15, 2016. (AFP/Joseph Eid)
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Lebanese officials including the labor minister have pledged action to prevent the widespread use of child labor in the agricultural sector following the release of a report on the harsh conditions of Syrian children working in the Bekaa Valley. The research was carried out by the American University of Beirut's Faculty of Health Sciences in 2017, at the request of the Labor Ministry.Surveyors interviewed 4,090 working children between the ages of 8 and 18 who were living in refugee camps in the Bekaa, and collected information on 287 children aged 4 to 8 who were working, via interviews with adult family members. About 22 percent of the Syrian refugees working in the agricultural sector in Lebanon are minors, said Rima Habib, an AUB professor of environmental health who headed up the research.Only 18 percent of the working children were enrolled in some form of schooling; among the children in the compulsory school age range of 6 to 14, 23 percent were in school, while for older teenagers, the number was only 5 percent.A large percentage of the households, 29 percent, were female-headed.
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