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Poverty forces Gaza children into labor market
Published Sunday 14/04/2013 (updated) 20/04/2013 17:37
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GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Poverty in the Gaza Strip is forcing a growing number of Palestinian children to drop out of school and enter the job market.

Israel's siege on the coastal territory, the high cost of living and the loss of family members who were previously bread winners, have forced children to find work in the informal economy in order to provide for their families.

"I have been selling cigarettes for one and a half years," Mustafa al-Assar, 12, told Ma'an.

"My father forced me to leave school in the third grade. I work from the early morning selling cigarettes to drivers, bystanders, and passengers at the main road of al-Nuseirat."

Mustafa's father is also a street vendor, selling cigarettes for eight hours a day from a moving vehicle for fear of being arrested by customs police.

He tells Ma'an that three of his children work on the streets, selling cigarettes and other goods.

"My father gives me 5 ($1.3) to 8 ($2.2) shekels every day. This depends on how much I sell. My father takes the rest of the money for the family. It is a good job since my father and I do not have any other work," Mustafa says.


Muhammad al-Hour, 15, is also a street vendor in Gaza. He sells tea and coffee in a parking lot next to al-Nuseirat refugee camp.

"I wake up at 6 a.m. every day. I take a teapot and a coffeepot, and head to the parking lot of al-Nuseirat refugee camp. Many students and drivers buy coffee and tea from me."

Muhammad says his father is old and can no longer work and his brothers and sisters are too young to earn money.

He says he is surprised at how many other children work in the parking lot selling tea and coffee, but competition among sellers forces them to work in extreme cold and heat to make enough profit.

Social worker Muhammad Abu Ameira says poverty and illiteracy are two of the main factors behind the increase in child labor.

Child labor is a humanitarian problem which will multiply as more and more children leave school without basic literacy skills, Ameria told Ma'an.

These children will not be equipped to work in other sectors in the future and will be forced to continue working on the streets to provide for their families, he says.
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1 ) Mel / USA
14/04/2013 22:27
Gaza's children are AMAZING!Their COURAGE,tenacity,humor,should be applauded by all!Considering the ABSOLUTE hell Israel keeps them in,with childhood freedoms,dreams & rights STRIPPED away,even in the womb,with unbelievabe CRUELTY by US-patronee Israel,being the MAIN PERPETRATOR!Is this what our US flag stands for in Congress? COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT(pushed by ZionistLobbies)on MILLIONS of kids in Gaza & thru-out the WHOLE REGION!Just so ROGUE-NUKE bully Israel stays"safe"& US loses REAL ALLIES!!!

2 ) maisie / UK
14/04/2013 23:35
These babes will grow and, should they resist, they will be labelled terrorists. It continues to amaze, the endurance of the people kept in what can surely be called a living Hell. What hope can they have when they see older siblings, cousins, family members brutalized? What can they look forward to? Why doesn't the West see these kids and guess at their future? Does the world really accept the BS coming from the "only democracy in the Middle East" and their support groups?

3 ) Nadine Lumley / Canada
17/04/2013 19:28
Truthy Alert: Criticism of Israel's apartheid crimes is ^NOT Anti-Semitism. Why is Canada’s right-wing Bush-lite Prime Minister Stephen Harper *SO* fanatical about supporting Israel bombing innocent Palestinian civilians? What’s the secret agenda at work here? ‎Surprise! It’s money: Canada does ONE BILLION DOLLARS of trade with Israel annually. Most of it military. It’s always about the money eh? At the 5:30 mark. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQ2MY58RunM

4 ) Robert Haymond / Tekoa, Israel
19/04/2013 17:29
Sorry Nadine, so sorry, but at last we have a man of principle in Canada's first office. He is a statesman by the name of Stephen Harper. This is his third term as prime minister. He refuses to be "politically correct". Put it this way, Canada is in a much better international position than all the grovelling EU countries which do not know how to deal with their ethnic Islamic populations. And yes, Stephen Harper is a conservative. And yes, he is rightwing. Congratulations, Canada!

5 ) Maureen / Australia
23/04/2013 23:54
#4 Robert Haymond. LOL! Rightwing alright and a Zionist! Hitler's ideology lives on!

6 ) Libra - scales of justice / United Kingdom
29/04/2013 20:34
What a life! What happy memories can these children build up in their young lives? They have the responsibility of adults. Early hours and work to earn enough to feed their families. One day these children will be free - and I believe that with all my heart. In fact every Palestinian will be free - to enjoy their life, and have a normal life, and these awful times will be wiped clean from their memories. So continue to have sweet dreams as you wait for that day to come. Do not lose hope.
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