Last Updated: Friday, 11 July 2014, 13:14 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Somalia

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 27 August 2008
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Somalia, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa48f37.html [accessed 13 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor3116
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2006:39.8
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2006:41.2
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2006:38.4
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:Not Applicable
Compulsory education age:Not Applicable
Free public education:No
Gross primary enrollment rate (%):
Net primary enrollment rate (%):
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2006:48.9
Survival rate to grade 5 (%):
ILO-IPEC participating country:No

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Children in rural areas of Somalia are more likely to work than those in urban areas. Such children perform domestic work, unpaid farm work, and herding starting at a young age, and are rarely employed in the formal sector.3117 Internally displaced children affected by continuing civil conflict are likely to work in the informal sector.3118 Children work in markets and on the streets selling water, cigarettes, and khat, a leaf chewed for its stimulant effect.3119 Children also work breaking rocks into gravel.3120

Child prostitution is known to take place in the country; however, there is little data available on the extent of the problem.3121 Somalia is a source country for child trafficking.3122 Somali children are reportedly trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation by armed militias.3123 Other organized groups are reported to traffic children to South Africa for sexual exploitation.3124 There have also been reports that children are sent out of the country to relatives and friends living in Western countries where they worked or collected public assistance to send money to family members in Somalia.3125

There have been reports of the use of children in armed conflict in Somalia.3126 Many children are members of armed gangs and militias.3127 The recruitment of children into militias and other armed groups has been increasing.3128 It has been reported that the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts, one of the competing armed groups, forcibly recruited children, targeting schoolchildren for conscription.3129 There are no reports of minors serving in the Somaliland Republic's Armed Forces, another armed group, though it is difficult to determine the age of recruits due to a lack of birth records.3130

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

Somalia has been without a functioning central government since 1991. During the reporting period, control was exerted by four different entities: the Transitional Federal Parliament based in Baidoa, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) based in Mogadishu, the self-appointed Independent Republic of Somaliland in the northwest, and the semi-autonomous region of Puntland in the northeast.3131 Although pre-1991 national laws prohibited child labor and trafficking, existing civil entities have no means for enforcing labor laws.

Current Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The lack of a functional central government precludes the existence of policies and programs to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. However during the reporting period, the TFG began to work with UNICEF to release child soldiers from the TFG Armed Forces.3132


3116 For statistical data not cited here, see the Data Sources and Definitions section. For data on ratifications and ILO-IPEC membership, see the Executive Summary. For minimum age for admission to work, age to which education is compulsory, and free public education, see Somali Joint Needs Assessment, Social Services and Protection of Vulnerable Groups Cluster Report, World Bank and United Nations, September 14, 2006; available from http://www.somali-jna.org/index.cfm?module=ActiveWeb&page=WebPage&s=social_services_1. See also UNICEF Somalia, Primary School Years, [online] [cited December 12, 2007]; available from http://www.unicef.org/somalia/children_87.html.

3117 World Bank and United Nations Development Program, Socio-Economic Survey 2002, 2003, 9; available from http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTSOMALIA/Resources/swb_complete_report.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, "Somalia," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007, Washington, DC, March 11, 2008, section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100504.htm.

3118 United Nations Office for the Coordination and Humanitarian Affairs Somalia, Protection, May 2006; available from http://www.somali-jna.org/downloads/PROTECTION.pdf. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Amina Alaman: 'I want to go to school'", IRINnews.org, [online], May 30, 2007 [cited December 12, 2007]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/HovPrintReport.aspx?ReportId=72449.

3119 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Somalia," section 6d. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Amina Alaman".

3120 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Somalia," section 6d.

3121 Ibid., section 5. See also U.S. Department of State, "Somalia (Special Cases)," in Trafficking in Persons Report2007, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/86204.htm.

3122 Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Tragic Cargo – Part One", IRINnews.org, [online], June 8, 2006; available from http://www.irinnews.org/PrintReport.aspx?ReportId=59251. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Somalia."

3123 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Somalia." See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Somalia," section 5.

3124 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Somalia."

3125 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Somalia," section 5.

3126 United Nations Security Council, Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict in Somalia, May 7, 2007, 1; available from http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N07/298/52/PDF/N0729852.pdf?OpenElement. See also Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Developments in Somalia, [online] 2006 [cited November 5, 2007]; available from http://www.un.org/children/conflict/english/somalia.html. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Somalia," section 1g. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Protect Children from Conscription, Say Aid Agencies", IRINnews.org, [online], January 2, 2007 [cited December 12, 2007]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/PrintReport.aspx?ReportId=62920.

3127 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Somalia," section 1g. See also United Nations Security Council, Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, Sixty Second Session, A/62/609-S/2007/757, December 21, 2007, section 88; available from http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N07/656/04/PDF/N0765604.pdf?OpenElement.

3128 United Nations Security Council, Report of Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, Sixty Second Session, section 88. See also United Nations Security Council, Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict in Somalia, 5.

3129 United Nations Security Council, Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict in Somalia, 5. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Protect Children from Conscription". See also United Nations Security Council, Report of Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, Sixty Second Session, section 88.

3130 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Somalia," section 1g. See also Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Somalia," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=796.

3131 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Somalia," section 1.

3132 United Nations Security Council, Report of Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, Sixty Second Session, section 88.

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