Withdrawal of residency permits threatened

Sulaymaniyah launches campaign to protect refugee street children

SULAYMANIYAH — The Sulaymaniyah Governorate has launched a campaign aimed at protecting refugee children from being sent to work on the streets by their families, with a warning that non-compliance will result in the withdrawal of their residency permits.

These refugees are Syrians who have been displaced by the ongoing conflict in their country and have sought refuge in the Kurdistan Region.

Omar Muhammedamin, the Assistant Director of Education in Sulaymaniyah, disclosed to 964media that a survey identified over 2,600 child laborers within the city. “Almost all of them are refugees’ children residing in Sulaymaniyah and sending their children to work on the streets,” he said.

A committee has been formed to enforce regulations and ensure compliance among these families. They are required to sign pledges not to engage their children in labor, with the clear stipulation that failure to comply will result in the revocation of their residency permits and possible deportation.

“If families are found in violation of this pledge, their residency rights will be withdrawn, and they will be sent back to their country,” Muhammedamin added.

Authorities in Sulaymaniyah removed 550 children from illegal jobs in 2023, in a crackdown on child labor led by the Sulaymaniyah Directorate of Social Monitoring and Development.

The directorate’s spokesperson, Hemn Mohammed, informed 964media that joint committees conducted a total of 3,003 site monitoring visits around Sulaymaniyah last year, resulting in the rescue of 550 children from various workplaces such as cafeterias, restaurants, billiards halls, salons, and factories. Investigations are ongoing into the violations.

The issue of child labor among refugee populations is a significant and complex problem worldwide. Displaced families often face extreme financial hardships, which can lead them to send their children to work to contribute to the household income. In the Kurdistan Region, the influx of Syrian refugees has exacerbated these challenges, with many children forced into labor due to the lack of economic opportunities and support systems for their families.

International organizations, including UNICEF and the International Labour Organization , have been actively working to address child labor in conflict and post-conflict regions. They advocate for stronger legal frameworks, improved enforcement of existing laws, and comprehensive support programs for refugee families to alleviate the economic pressures that drive child labor. “Improv[ing] access to livelihoods including through making more funding available for income-generating activities,” is a key pillar of its demands on host governments and NGOs working in the region.