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2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - West Bank and Gaza Strip (Occupied Territories Subject to the Jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority)

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 22 September 2005
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - West Bank and Gaza Strip (Occupied Territories Subject to the Jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority), 22 September 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48c8ca7dc.html [accessed 24 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.

There is limited information regarding the extent and nature of child labor and the quality and provision of education in non-independent countries and territories eligible for GSP, AGOA, and CBTPA benefits. These countries and territories generally are not eligible to become members of the ILO, so ILO Conventions 138 and 182 do not apply to any of them.[4357] Territories are subject to laws of the sovereign country.

During January through March 2003, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics estimated that less than 1 percent of children ages 10 to 14 were working in West Bank and Gaza.[4416] The survey estimated that 46.1 percent of working children are employed in agriculture, fishing, and forestry, while 6.6 percent are employed in construction. Two-thirds of working children are employed as unpaid family members, while 28.1 percent are employed as wage employees outside the home. The survey also reported that 7.6 percent of working children were exposed to injury or chronic disease during their work.[4417] There are also reports that children and adolescents have been used by Palestinian armed groups.[4418]

Education is compulsory through grade nine.[4419] For the academic year 2003-2004, the gross primary enrollment rate was 88.3 percent in the West Bank and 96.3 percent in Gaza, while the net enrollment rate was 83.3 percent in the West Bank and 91.1 percent in Gaza.[4420] Gross and net enrollment ratios are based on the number of students formally registered in primary school and therefore do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance. Recent primary school attendance statistics are not available for the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Although gross and net enrollment rates are high, many girls marry early and do not complete the mandatory level of schooling, and in rural areas and refugee camps, boys often drop out of school early to help support their families.[4421] Closures and extended periods of curfew limited children's and teachers' access to schooling, and student learning was reported to be negatively affected by the violent security situation.[4422] The violence resulted in the cancellation of classes in areas under curfew,[4423] delays in school construction and sharp declines in teaching time due to problems with teacher attendance.[4424] In 2001, the Israeli government agreed to build a number of new classrooms in East Jerusalem to alleviate problems of overcrowding. By the end of 2003, 30 had been completed and an additional 36 were under construction.[4425]

The minimum age for work in the West Bank and Gaza is 15 years, and there are restrictions on the employment of children between the ages of 15 and 18. The restrictions include prohibitions against night work, work under conditions of hard labor, or jobs that require them to travel outside their domicile.[4426] The Palestinian Authority is responsible for enforcing the area's labor laws; however, with only 40 labor inspectors for an estimated 65,000 enterprises, the Authority has limited capacity to enforce labor laws.[4427] There is no law specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons, but no trafficking incidents have been reported.[4428]

The Child Rights Charter, passed by the Palestinian Legislative Council, is in effect to protect and guarantee the rights of children in West Bank and Gaza. Under this charter investigations into allegations of recruiting and exploiting children in armed operations are required, and those responsible for such activities are to be tried in a court of law.[4429]

The Palestinian Authority is working with the ILO and UNICEF to improve child labor laws and enforcement, and to conduct a study to determine the extent and nature of child labor in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.[4430] In partnership with the Palestinian National Authority's Ministry of Education and Higher Education, UNICEF is conducting a campaign to help 10,000 children return to school. Assistance includes provision of uniforms and school supplies, teacher training, and a media campaign to promote education.[4431]


[4357] ILO official, electronic communication to USDOL official, January 31, 2002. Most of the areas covered in this summary report are considered by the ILO to be non-metropolitan territories and therefore, are ineligible to become members of the ILO. An ILO member can submit a declaration to the ILO requesting that these conventions apply to their non-metropolitan territories. See Constitution; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/about/iloconst.htm.

[4416] Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Main Findings According to the Relaxed Definition of Unemployment, January – March, 2003, [cited July 3, 2003]; available from http://www.pcbs.org/english/press_r/press28/result_28.htm. The Central Bureau of Statistics conducted another survey in 2004 with a sample size of 10,334 households with 8,601 households having at least one child. Of the children in the survey sample, only 1.7 percent meet the definition of child labor as used by the survey. Child labor, according to PCBS, is defined as unpaid family work, domestic work, or any type of paid work. For children ages 12 to 14 years, working more than 14 hours per week is considered child labor. For children ages 15 to 17 years, working more than 40 hours per week is considered child labor. See Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Main Findings of the 2004 Child Labor Survey, fact sheet, 2004.

[4417] Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Main Findings of the 2004 Child Labor Survey.

[4418] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Israel and the Occupied Territories, Section 5.

[4419] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Israel and the Occupied Territories, Section 5.

[4420] Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Net Enrollment Ratio and Gross Enrollment Ratio by Region, Stage and Sex, 2003/2004, Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 2003/2004; available from http://www.pcbs.org/educatio/yb0204_educ8.aspx. See the glossary of this report for more information on gross and net enrollment rates.

[4421] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Israel and the Occupied Territories, Section 5.

[4422] A separation barrier's construction east of the village of Khirbat Jabara has resulted in missed schooling for children, especially since the village has no primary school. See Ibid.

[4423] Ibid.

[4424] Save the Children UK and Save the Children Sweden, Education Under Occupation: Palestinian Children Talk About Life and School, March 2002, 11; available from http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/temp/scuk/cache/cmsattach/611_educunderocc.pdf. More than 35,000 teacher workdays were lost in the 2002-2003 academic year. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Israel and the Occupied Territories, Section 5.

[4425] See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Israel and the Occupied Territories, Section 5.

[4426] Ibid., Sections 5 and 6d.

[4427] Ibid., Section 6d.

[4428] Ibid., Section 6f.

[4429] Article 46 of the Charter states that "it is forbidden to recruit or use children in military actions or military conflicts and the state should take the necessary procedures to guarantee [this]." See Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Occupied Palestinian Territories," in Global Report 2004, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=959.

[4430] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Israel and the Occupied Territories, Section 6d.

[4431] UNICEF, One Million Go Back to School in Occupied Palestinian Territory, [press release] September 1, 2003 [cited June 1, 2004]; available from http://www.unicef.org/media/media_13753.html.

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