“Disguised begging”… Children in Idlib clean cars

As part of his daily work routine, 10-year-old Ibrahim Al-Zuraik carries a piece of cotton cloth and a bottle of soapy water. He sprays it on the car windows and starts wiping, taking his usual place at the main clock. roundabout in the city of Idlib, northwestern Syria.

Child Ibrahim started working as a car wiper when someone offered him to join a team of children who are looking for their daily food, and he is the same person who provides them with equipment and delivers them from home to place every day. of working back and forth, according to what he told Enab Baladi.

About his work mechanism and the wages he receives, Ibrahim said, with a shy smile, that as soon as the car stops for a moment, he starts wiping the windows, and when he finishes, the driver gives him a very small amount, the ceiling of which is Turkish lira. Others scold him for they get away from the car.

Ibrahim collects an amount of 20 to 50 Turkish lira per day, and his share is 15 Turkish lira, while the rest he gives to the one he calls “the teacher”, that is, the one who runs the business (each dollar corresponds to 18.5 Turkish lira on average).

Children in Idlib, northwestern Syria, have been living in difficult social and economic conditions for years after the war, which has led to poverty, displacement and school dropouts.

Recently, a new type of begging has appeared in which children hold sponges and bottles of detergent in their hands, throw themselves at passing cars and clean their windows, in exchange for a few Turkish lira, regardless of the danger that threatens them on the streets.

The extreme poverty suffered by many families in Idlib is the main motive behind these families sending their children to work on the street, so the process of scanning passing cars becomes one of the occupations through which the children earn some money to support their families who are in the camps for exiles.

dangers surround them

In the course of performing the activity of filming passing cars, children are exposed to multiple risks, including traffic accidents, harassment and exploitation, and verbal and physical violence, with no one responsible for the protection of these children.

A child, Ehab Al-Barq (age 9), suffered a fractured left foot after being run over by a car when he jumped on it to wipe his windshield, which left him bedridden for more than a month, after which he returned to the same work despite the possibility of similar accidents.

Ihab does not work with any party, but alone, according to what he told Enab Baladi, after touching on the poverty of his heart-sick father and his inability to provide a decent living for him and his three brothers, especially after their displacement from their city, Maarat al-Numana, and settling in random camps in Idlib almost three years ago.

“I earn about 50 Turkish lira a day from this job, which gives us our daily bread and covers the family’s expenses. If I don’t work, we won’t eat, so I can’t live without this job,” according to the child’s expression.

Amer al-Kurdi (41 years old), a driver in the city of Idlib, expressed his displeasure with the spread of the phenomenon, telling Enab Baladi that these children do not leave a chance to be accepted or rejected, but are thrown away. on cars and wipe them out directly without warning, which makes them give them money out of sympathy for them, put the blame on the parents of these children and question their acceptance of allowing their children at this age to work in dangerous conditions.

On the other hand, Wafaa al-Kishtu (39 years old) told Enab Baladi that she was forced to send her son to this job to help her with the expenses that were draining her and that she could not bear alone after the death of her husband in the bombing of their city, Saraqib, at the end of 2018, leaving her with five children, the oldest of whom is eleven, ten years old.

“What made you do something different?” Wafaa said, speaking of living conditions that had become “very difficult” amid poverty and a lack of jobs besieging her from all sides. She had no choice but to depend on the work of her eldest son, who depended on what they did every day to meet his basic needs, she said.

“disguised begging”

Social worker Hanan Othman (age 33) attributed the phenomenon of what she called “disguised service-related begging” to the futility of traditional begging methods and an attempt to devise a new method of begging to gain sympathy. Lack of interest of de facto authorities and civil and local society in this category.

Al-Othman highlighted the dangers to which street children are exposed by acquiring “immoral” habits, and using them as a profitable business for gangs that traffic in children, in addition to other things that a child can be exposed to, which makes him vulnerable to sexual harassment, which hints from within broken generations full of hatred and revenge, according to Al-Othman.

The guide first of all blamed the parents who have to supervise and take their children to school instead of to the street and give them full rights to care and protection, and secondly the civil society organizations that did not deal with the matter in a real way and did not pay attention to these children and they did not work to return them to their schools and improve their reality and the reality of their families’ lives.

According to the Response Coordinators team, the percentage of families below the poverty line has reached 84% in northern Syria, according to basic prices and sources of income, and the percentage of families below the hunger line is 36% of the total number of families below the poverty line. poverty line. exchange rate change and other factors).

The team classified all the inhabitants of the camps scattered in the region completely below the poverty line, and 18% of the displaced from the camps were classified as within the limits of hunger.

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