2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Somalia

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor
Percent of children 5-14 estimated as working:Unavailable
Minimum age for admission to work:Unavailable
Age to which education is compulsory:133792
Free public education:No
Gross primary enrollment rate:Unavailable
Net primary enrollment rate:Unavailable
Percent of children 5-14 attending school:Unavailable
Percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:Unavailable
Ratified Convention 138:No3793
Ratified Convention 182:No3794
ILO-IPEC participating country:No3795

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Children in rural areas of Somalia are more likely to work than those in urban areas, and perform mostly unpaid farm work.3796 Children often work in herding and agricultural labor, starting at a young age, and are rarely employed in the formal sector.3797 Children who work in markets and on the streets, including children who sell khat, a leaf chewed for its stimulant effect, are vulnerable to violence perpetrated by armed clan militias.3798

Child prostitution is practiced in the country; however, there is little statistical data available on the extent of the problem.3799 Somalia is a source country for child trafficking.3800 Somali children are reportedly trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation by armed militias.3801 Other organized groups are reported to traffic children to South Africa for sexual exploitation. There are reports of children sent to live with relatives and friends in western countries where they work, and send earnings back to family members in Somalia.3802

The use of children in armed conflict is a problem in Somalia. Many children are members of armed gangs and militias. According to the U.S. Department of State, the recruitment of children into militias and other armed groups increased during 2006. It has been reported that the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts forcibly recruited some children in 2006. There are no reports of minors serving in the Somaliland Republic's armed forces, though it is difficult to determine the age of recruits because of a lack of birth registration records.3803

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 Government (TFG) based in Baidoa, the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts in and around Mogadishu, the self-appointed Independent Republic of Somaliland in the northwest, and the semiautonomous region of Puntland in the northeast.3804 Although pre-1991 laws prohibited child labor and trafficking, existing government entities have no means for enforcing labor laws.

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

Research has not identified any policies or programs by the TFG to address exploitive child labor.

3792 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Ending Age of Compulsory Education, accessed October 21, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

3793 ILO, Ratifications by Country, accessed October 20, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

3794 Ibid.

3795 ILO-IPEC, All About IPEC: Programme Countries, [online] 2001 [cited March 7, 2007]; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/about/countries/t_coun….

3796 World Bank, Socio-Economic Survey Somalia 2002, accessed May 28, 2003, 21; available from http://www.worldbank.org/afr/so/surveydoc.htm.

3797 U.S. Department of State, "Somalia," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2006, Washington, DC, March 6, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/.

3798 Ibid, Sections 1a and 5.

3799 Ibid, Section 5.

3800 U.S. Department of State, "Somalia," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006, Washington, DC, June 5, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Somalia," Section 5.

3801 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Somalia."

3802 Ibid. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Somalia," Section 5. See also Integrated Regional News Networks, "SOMALIA: Tragic Cargo – Part One", IRINnews.org, [online], June 8, 2006 [cited October 18, 2006]; available from http://www.irinnews.org.

3803 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Somalia," Sections 5 and 6d. 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/resources/global-reports.

3804 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Somalia."


This 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.