(ERGO) – Suhayb Abdirahman, 12, works as a porter in Gobanimo market in Hargeisa. He works more than 12 hours a day ferrying goods weighing up to 40 kg for customers on his handcart.
He takes around $5 home with him. The family lives around four kilometres from the market.
Suhayb’s mother is at home taking care of her bedridden husband who suffered a stroke in August 2016, paralyzing one side of his body. Suhayb is the only source of income in his family and has never attended school. He supports his three siblings. Only his eldest sister goes to school.
“Sometimes I don’t even see my siblings for a week – I go home at nine at night and leave home at five in the morning,” said Suhayb. “Some the biggest challenges include the bad roads and some customers who refuse to pay for the services.”
Suhayb is one of around 3,000 children in Hargeisa working in jobs including fetching water, building, washing cars, and waiting tables in local eateries. They work long hours and often in heavy manual work unsuitable for their size and age.
Faysa Mohamed, director of SOYDA, a child rights organization, said information they had gathered in five districts of the city showed that the majority of children were pushed into work by poverty.
Abdifatah Barkad Osmano, 13, also works in Gobanimo market using a cart he hires for 3,000 Somaliland Shilling ($0.25). He was taken out of school when his father died at the end of 2016 to support his mother and four siblings. Abdifatah works around nine hours a day to earn $6
Somaliland claims to abide by the UN Convention on the Right of the Child, banning child labour. Somalia has ratified the convention. However, Guled Ahmed Jama, head of the Human Rights Centre, said the reality is that children cannot stay at home and go to school when there is no food, so they are forced to go to the market and seek jobs.