Thousands of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon forced to work: aid group

admin   •   June 13, 2014   •   1945

Syrian refugee children collect plastics as they stand along a street in south of Sidon, southern Lebanon June 10, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/ALI HASHISHO

(Reuters) – At least 50,000 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon are working, often in dire conditions and for 12 hours a day, to pay for food and shelter for their families, aid organisation CARE said.

More than a million Syrian refugees live in Lebanon, making up a quarter of the country’s population, having fled a civil war in its fourth year, which has left more than 160,000 dead.

Only 50 percent of Syrian refugee children in the region attend school, and only 30 percent in Lebanon, CARE said.

Children working as street vendors say they are earning less than $5 a day. Others work at coffee shops and markets or on farms and construction sites. Some say they commute for hours on buses into the capital Beirut.

Mohammad, a 14-year-old shoe shiner who fled Syria a year ago, said he makes about $6 a day, picking up work as he walks up and down the streets of Beirut’s Hamra shopping district.

Mohammad said the money goes towards feeding his younger siblings. Asked if he would like to return to school, he said: “God willing, when I return to Syria.”

Other children beg, often with family members, in Hamra and others pack bags in minimarkets or work as car valets.

In Jordan, where nearly 600,000 Syrian refugees live, child labour has doubled nationwide to 60,000 since the start of the war, CARE said this week.

The group is giving cash to families in Jordan and Lebanon, which has banned refugee camps, to allow children to attend school rather than work, but funds are insufficient, CARE said.

“The conditions are harsh and safety and security of the children is not guaranteed,” Johanna Mitscherlich, Regional Emergency Communications Coordinator for CARE Jordan, said in an email, noting that housing is inadequate and that families struggle by on one or two meals a day.

“There are also quite a few children who have injuries from the war or who are still traumatized and can therefore neither work nor go to school,” she said.

Thursday marks International Day against Child Labour with about 168 million children working worldwide, down by a third since 2000, according to the International Labour Organisation.

(Editing by Oliver Holmes and Louise Ireland)

Trump urges U.S. to halt most social activity in virus fight, warns of recession

UNTV News   •   March 17, 2020

President Donald Trump urged Americans on Monday (March 16) to halt most social activities for 15 days and not congregate in groups larger than 10 people in a newly aggressive effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.

Announcing new guidelines from his coronavirus task force, the president said people should avoid discretionary travel and not go to bars, restaurants, food courts or gyms.

As stocks tumbled, Trump warned that a recession was possible, a development that could affect his chances of re-election in November. The Republican president said he was focused on addressing the health crisis and that the economy would get better once that was in line.

The task force implored young people to follow the new guidelines even though they were at lesser risk of suffering if they contract the virus. Older people, especially those with underlying health problems, are at the greatest risk if they develop the respiratory disease.

Reporters staggered their seating, sitting in every other seat in the White House briefing room, to follow social distancing measures.

Trump said the worst of the virus could be over by July, August or later. He called it an invisible enemy.

The president has taken criticism for playing down the seriousness of the virus in the early days of its U.S. spread. On Monday, when asked, he gave himself a good grade for his response.

“I’d rate it a 10. I think we’ve done a great job,” he said.

Trump said a nationwide curfew was not under consideration at this point.

Normally a cheerleader for the U.S. economy, he acknowledged the possibility of a recession while brushing off another dramatic decline on stock markets as investors worried about the virus.

“We’re not thinking in terms of recession, we’re thinking in terms of the virus. Once we stop, I think there’s a tremendous pent up demand, both in terms of the stock market and in terms of the economy,” Trump said. The president has long considered soaring stock markets to be a sign of his administration’s success.

Trump said the administration had talked regularly about domestic travel restrictions but hoped not to have to put such measures in place.

He said he thought it would still be possible for G7 leaders to meet at the Camp David retreat in Maryland in June. Trump upset European countries, which make up a large part of the G7, by instituting travel restrictions from European countries without consulting with them first. (Reuters)

(Production: Katharine Jackson)

Streets deserted in Milan during coronavirus lockdown

UNTV News   •   March 11, 2020

A handful of people were seen on the streets of Milan on Wednesday morning (March 12) following stringent measures imposed to contain the coronavirus.

Shops and restaurants closed, hundreds of flights were cancelled and streets emptied across Italy on Tuesday (March 10), the first day of an unprecedented, nationwide lockdown imposed to slow Europe’s worst outbreak of coronavirus.

Just hours after the dramatic new restrictions came into force, health authorities announced the death toll had jumped by 168 to 631, the largest rise in absolute numbers since the contagion came to light on Feb. 21.

The total number of confirmed cases rose at a much slower rate than recently seen, hitting 10,149 against a previous 9,172, but officials warned that the region at the epicentre, Lombardy, had provided incomplete data.

The government has told all Italians to stay at home and avoid non-essential travel until April 3, radically widening steps already taken in much of the wealthy north, which is the epicentre of the spreading contagion. (Reuters)

(Production: Marissa Davison)

Russian parliament backs changes allowing Putin to run again for president

UNTV News   •   March 11, 2020

The Russian lower house of parliament on Wednesday (March 11) gave its definitive approval to constitutional changes that allow Vladimir Putin to run for president again in 2024, something the current constitution forbids.

The 450-seat State Duma, the lower house of parliament, voted in favour of the changes in a third and final reading by 383 votes.

Nobody voted against, but 43 lawmakers abstained. Twenty-four lawmakers were absent.

Putin told parliament in televised comments on Tuesday he believed a constitutional amendment that would allow him to run for president again could be adopted if Russia’s Constitutional Court did not object.

Putin is required by the constitution to step down in 2024 when his second sequential presidential term ends. (Reuters)

(Production: Mikhail Antonov, Anton Derbene)

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