child labor
tent cities
November 1, 2013

Syria Update


Scott: Now we check in on the situation in Syria, where a civil war has been raging. And yesterday, it was announced that Syria had destroyed its equipment used to make chemical weapons just in time for today’s November 1st deadline. But as Maggie Rulli shows us, the conflict that has been going on there for more than two-and-a-half years is still far from over.

Like young people everywhere, Batool gets up early and waits for her ride. But Batool no longer goes to school. She dreamed of being a teacher back in Syria, but now spends her days working in the fields because her family needs the money. They fled Syria four months ago because of the country’s ongoing civil war, and now live in a refugee camp in the neighboring country of Lebanon.

On this day, she and other girls from the camp were picking beans. It is dull, repetitive work done usually by women and children. These girls will take home less than $5 each. It is not enough for one person to live on but, for many families, it is their only source of income.

The Syrian civil war started in March of 2011 when people began protesting against the ruling government. Since then, more than 2.5 million Syrians have fled their homes, often finding safety in nearby Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt and, like Batool’s family, Lebanon.

Often, young refugees start working at only seven years old.

Batool: I miss school and my teachers. I miss my home.

Maggie: Batool’s father said he has to send his children to work because he can’t find a job. But says this decision is difficult and he has other dreams for his daughter.

Batool’s father: To see her and her brothers and sisters get an education and to have a good life.

Maggie: Sadly, the story of Batool’s family is common. The UN estimates that at least half-a-million Syrian children are now living in Lebanon in camps like this.

When asked who worked in the fields, many children raised their hands.

In total, 7 million Syrians have been forced out of their homes because of the fighting. That is equal to one-third of the country’s entire population. If that happened here in America, it would mean 100 million Americans, or the population of California, Texas, New York, Illinois and Florida combined.

The situation in Syria continues to be watched closely by the international community. And this week, a Russian-American brokered deal successfully removed the equipment used to make chemical weapons in Syria.

Jerry Smith: They are not now in a position to conduct any further production or mixing of chemical weapons as far as their disclosed capabilities are concerned.

Maggie: Many are hopeful about this progress. But for Batool and the million other refugee children, this hope for the future still seems a far way off.

Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.

Scott: Syria still has to destroy some chemical weapons that were previously created by next summer.


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