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Cablegate: Yemen Update of Worst Forms of Child Labor


DE RUEHYN #2170/01 3331541
R 291541Z NOV 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. As requested in reftel, Post contacted appropriate
Republic of Yemen Government (ROYG) government officials and
non-governmental organizations (NGOs)(including the
Ministries of Labor, and Education, international
organizations such as the ILO and UNICEF, and the World Bank)
for updated information on the nature of child labor in Yemen
and the extent to which the ROYG is working to eliminate the
worst forms of child labor (WFCL). Post provides the
following responses keyed to reftel. Post will also forward
to DOL all hard copies of information gathered from contacts
for this report.

2. Section A) ROYG laws and regulations proscribing the
worst forms of child labor:

- ROYG Ministerial Decree No.56 for 2004 (promulgated in
accordance with the ILO Conventions No.(182) regarding the
ban of worst forms of child labor and No.(138) regarding
classifying work age issued by the International Labor
Organization) sets the minimum age for any kind of labor that
might expose "children's health, security or ethics to danger
due to the nature or circumstances of the work" at age 18.
The decree goes on to state that the minimum age for work
that does not expose a child to danger shall not be less than
the age of finishing compulsory education and shall never be
under age 18. There are, however, exceptions. Anyone age 18
who has failed to complete compulsory schooling is permitted
to work and children between the ages of 13-15 may work if
the nature of the job is light, if the job is not harmful to
their health and their physical and mental welfare and if job
attendance does not interfere with school attendance. There
are no exceptions for hazardous work and children are
permitted to work for their parents but not if the work is in
violation of any of the proscriptions set forth in the
Decree. The Decree specifically identifies the worst forms
of child labor that must be eliminated as: the use of
children in prostitution and the production of child
pornography; the use or conscription of children as
combatants in armed conflicts and tribal disputes; using,
procuring, or exposing children to illicit activities such as
the promotion use and sale of drugs; child trafficking beyond
the borders of Yemen for any purpose, and labor that by its
nature or circumstance is likely to harm a child's health,
safety, morals and behavior. The minimum age for military
service or recruitment is 18 years.

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- The ROYG has ratified Convention 182 and in the
aforementioned decree, Chapter Three Section One, identifies
the worst forms of child labor for children under the age of
18 in accordance with article 4 of the Convention. The list
includes 74 occupations.

3. Section B) ROYG regulations for implementation and
enforcement of proscriptions against the worst forms of child

- Ministerial decree No.56, Section Two Articles 25 - 29,
sets forth sanctions available to government agencies that
enforce child labor laws. Section Two provides criminal
penalties for inciting a child to engage in the use of drugs
or the sale of psychotropic substances, prostitution or
debauchery, and for the purchase or sale of a male or female
child. The prison terms range from five to fifteen years. A
prison term may be doubled for repeat offenders.

- The ROYG Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MOSAL),
Child Labor Unit (CLU), is severely constrained in its
ability to investigate and document complaints of child labor
violations. MOSAL's budget is inadequate to fund the
monitoring and capacity building measures and training
necessary to empower the CLU to monitor and reduce the
phenomenon of child labor in Yemen. The CLU has approximately
20 monitors throughout the country. There is, however,
considerable apathy among those monitors, who are paid only 4
thousand Yemeni Rial (YR), the equivalent of less than 20
USD, per month. The ministry has no database capacity for the
collection, storage and analysis of information gathered by
the monitors. Again, this is due to the severe budgetary
constraints of the MOSAL.

- The CLU has been able, through partnerships and networking
with NGOs such as the International Labor Organization,
International Program for the Elimination of Child labor
(ILO/IPEC) and ACCESS-MENA, to develop programs that target
at risk communities and responsible government officials
through awareness training programs as well as rehabilitation

and training programs.

4. Section C) Social programs in Yemen specifically designed
to prevent and withdraw children from the worst forms of
child labor:

- The Community, Habitat and Finance (CHF) ACCESS-MENA
program is an 8 million US dollar (USD) US Department of
Labor (USDOL) funded program covering Lebanon and Yemen. The
program aims to prevent child labor by improving access to,
and the quality of, basic education. The program does not
give the children or their families money to withdraw
children from the work force. Instead, the program works with
NGOs and with school and government authorities to conduct
workshops and public awareness campaigns to create an
environment that encourages families to withdraw children
from the work force to attend school.

- The Yemeni government in cooperation with the ILO/IPEC
established anti-child labor units in a number of government
institutions throughout the country. The program funded by
USDOL is a 4 year, 3 million USD program. In 2005, the
ILO/IPEC established centers for rehabilitation of child
workers in Sanaa, Seiyoun, and Aden, and Hodeidah. Within 4
months, these centers were able to rehabilitate 719 street
children in the Sanaa and Seiyoun centers. In the beginning
of 2007, ILO/IPEC established an additional center for the
rehabilitation of child workers in the fishing industry.

5. Section D) Yemen does have a comprehensive policy aimed
at the elimination of the worst forms of child labor:

- The ROYG has a Country Program Action Plan which
incorporates the National Policy and Program Framework (NPPF)
for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in
Lebanon and Yemen funded by USDOL with 3 million dollars US.
Launched in Yemen by ILO/IPEC, the plan is included in the
ROYG's Third 5 Year Plan under the strategy for poverty
reduction. The NFFP is designed to achieve 4 objectives: 1)
Strengthened enforcement mechanisms and harmonization of the
ROYG legislative framework with international standards for
the WFCL and strengthened enforcement mechanisms. 2)
Enhancement of ROYG capacity to implement legislation,
policies and programs to eliminate the WFCL. 3) Increased
awareness about the negative consequences of the WFCL in
Yemen and how to deal with the problem. 4) Withdrawal and
prevention of the exploitation and engagement of boys and
girls in the WFCL, through effective intervention models.

- Education is free by law in Yemen, but in practice the cost
of books and school uniforms raise the cost to about 10 USD
per student per year. The average Yemeni household has an
income of between 450 USD and 730 USD per year (approximately
2 USD per day). With one of the highest population growth
rates in the world at 3.1 percent per year, the average woman
in Yemen has six children. School, at 10 USD per year per
student, becomes cost prohibitive for many families in Yemen.
Estimates by CHF ACCESS-MENA place the number of children out
of school in Yemen at more than two million. CHF further
clarifies this number, stating that 55 percent of the
children in Yemen between the ages of 6-15 are out of school.

6. Section E) Yemen is making continual progress toward
eliminating the worst forms of child labor:

- Definite and updated statistics on child labor are not
available but the issue of child labor in Yemen is high on
the list of the ROYG's agenda. The problem is addressed in
Yemen's five year plan, and National Poverty Reduction and
Childhood and Youth Strategy (NPRCYS). Child labor is an
issue also regularly referred to in national media and
parliamentary discussions. The NFFP is constructed as a
coherent set of policies, strategies, and objectives, aimed
at responding to the problem of child labor and the WFCL in
Yemen. While there is some indication of a rise in child
labor, the fact that the ROYG is working with NGOs and donors
to confront the underlying issues of poverty and illiteracy
illustrates progress toward the elimination of the WFCL in
Yemen. The programs in place are relatively new and will take
time to have significant impact on the child labor situation
but the ROYG appears committed to the fight and to increasing
its own capacity to ensure sustainability of the reduction in
child labor and the elimination of the WFCL in Yemen.

- CHF reports that children in Yemen are employed
predominantly in agriculture and fishing. Estimates claim
that 82.9 percent of children work for their families
(including street beggars) and 17.1 percent work outside the

family. MOSAL cites that children working outside the family
are employed in small factories and shops. CHF reports claim
that that approximately 51.7 percent of male children between
the ages of 10-14 are in the work force compared to 48.3
percent of female children in the same age group.

- According to the CLU, Yemen is free from slavery practices
but the ROYG does acknowledge a high rate of trafficking of
children into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) for work. CLU
estimates not less than 10 children per day are trafficked
into KSA. MOSAL has no reports indicating that children are
trafficked into KSA for commercial sex. Young girls may,
however, fall victim to internal trafficking for commercial
sex. A draft study conducted by ILO/IPEC in three
governorates, Mahweet, Aden and Taiz, indicates that there is
evidence that young girls below the age of 15 are being
trafficked into the commercial sex trade in those areas. They
predominately work in hotels, casinos, and bars.

7. COMMENT: Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East
and one of the least developed countries in the world. The
average Yemeni household subsists on an income of less than 2
USD per day. An exploding population growth rate at 3.1
percent per year places poor households in the position of
sending children into the work force instead of to school to
supplement the family income. The ROYG is to be commended for
developing plans and partnerships with international donors
and NGOs to combat the problem that many other countries in
the region, due to cultural sensitivity, would simply deny or
ignore. Post hopes that the nascent programs ongoing in Yemen
will continue to receive adequate funding to ensure that the
ROYG is able to develop its own capacity to eliminate and
prevent the WFCL in a sustainable fashion. END COMMENT.

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