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2005 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 29 August 2006
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - West Bank and Gaza Strip (Occupied Territories Subject to the Jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority), 29 August 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7491c1a.html [accessed 25 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.5132 Territories are subject to laws of the sovereign country.

Statistics on the number of working children under age 15 in West Bank and Gaza are unavailable.5202 The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics published results from a 2004 Labor Force Survey, which estimated that 1.1 percent of children ages 10 to 14 were working in West Bank and Gaza during that year.5203 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.5204 The survey also reported that 7.6 percent of working children were exposed to injury or chronic disease during their work,5205 and 24.3 percent of child laborers do not attend school.5206 There are also reports that children have received military training and function as fighters or as human shields for Palestinian armed groups.5207

Education is compulsory through grade nine.5208 In 2002, the gross primary enrollment rate was 99 percent, and the net enrollment rate was 91 percent.5209 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. 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.5210 The U.S. Department of State reports that closures and checkpoints limit children's and teachers' access to schooling and that student learning is negatively affected by the violent security situation.5211 It has been reported that a shortage of 5,000 classrooms exists in the Arab sector of the public education system.5212

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.5213 The Palestinian Authority is responsible for enforcing the area's labor laws; however, the U.S. Department of State reports that with only 40 labor inspectors for an estimated 65,000 enterprises, the Authority has limited capacity to enforce labor laws.5214 There is no law specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons. No trafficking incidents have been reported.5215

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.5216

The Palestinian Authority is working with UNICEF to improve child labor laws and enforcement, and with ILO-IPEC to assess the extent and nature of child labor in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.5217 Through 2004, UNICEF provided 40,000 children with uniforms and school supplies, and distributed 375 school-ina-box kits to reach 30,000 students in affected Gaza schools.5218 The World Bank is working with the Ministry of Social Affairs to implement a Social Safety Net project, which is assisting poor and vulnerable children access education through a conditional cash transfer program.5219


5132 ILO official, e-mail 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 ILO, Constitution; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/about/iloconst.htm.

5202 Reliable data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms, such as the use of children in the illegal drug trade, prostitution, pornography, and trafficking. As a result, statistics and information on children's work in general are reported in this section. Such statistics and information may or may not include the worst forms of child labor. For more information on the definition of working children and other indicators used in this report, please see the Data Sources and Definitions section of this report.

5203 Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Labour Force Survey – Annual Report 2004; available from http://www.pcbs.org/lab_annual04/tab_2.aspx. 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, Child Labor Survey, 2004: Main Findings, July 2004, 19, 24, 27; available from http://www.pcbs.org/press_r/lfs_child04e.pdf.

5204 Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Child Labor Survey, 2004: Main Findings, 28.

5205 Ibid., 29.

5206 Ibid., 27.

5207 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Global Report 2004: Occupied Palestinian Territories, November 17, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=959. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Israel and the Occupied Territories, Washington, D.C., February 28, 2005, Section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41723.htm.

5208 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Occupied Territories, Section 5.

5209 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, (Gross and Net Enrolment Ratios, Primary; accessed December 2005).

5210 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Occupied Territories, Section 5.

5211 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.

5212 U. S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2005: Israel and the Occupied Territories, Washington, D.C., March 8, 2006, Section 5.

5213 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Occupied Territories, Section 6d.

5214 Ibid.

5215 Ibid., Section 5.

5216 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, Global Report 2004: Occupied Palestinian Territories.

5217 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Occupied Territories, Section 6d.

5218 UNICEF, Occupied Palestinian Territory: Education, [online] [cited September 30, 2005]; available from http://www.unicef.org/oPt/education.html.

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