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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                                   


Since independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Eritrea has faced the economic problems of a small, desperately poor country, accentuated by the recent implementation of restrictive economic policies.

Like the economies of many African nations, the economy is largely based on subsistence agriculture, with 80% of the population involved in farming and herding.

Eritrea's economic future depends upon its ability to master social problems such as illiteracy, unemployment, and low skills, and more importantly, on the government's willingness to support a true market economy.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Eritrea


CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Eritrea.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


(III) Eritrea, a Nation in Overall Crisis: Coping Strategies in Hard Times

Mussie Hadgu , Asmarino Independent, 16 April 2009

[accessed 12 January 2015]


7. Prostitution and child labour: As the bread winners of the households are absent, families resort to sending their children to work in different economic activities such as restaurants, bars, and other activities such as being street vendors. Some of the underage girls finally end up as sex workers. Many adult women also resort to the prostitution as a coping strategy. However, as the government targets and sends the sex workers and children who are street vendors or street children or any child or adult person out of school to military training, mere observation of the number of sex workers and of children engaged in the above mentioned activities does not give the actual picture of the scale of child labour and prostitution in the country. - sccp


*** ARCHIVES ***

The Department of Labor’s 2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor [PDF]

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2007

[accessed 4 February 2011]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - In Eritrea, children work on the street, in the agricultural sector, and as domestic servants.  Children living in rural areas often work in family businesses, including subsistence farming, and engage in such activities as fetching firewood and water, and herding livestock. Children are expected to work from about age 5 by looking after livestock and working in the fields. For children working in urban areas street vending is typical, however this is not widely prevalent. Many underage apprentices work in shops and workshops such as garages or metal workshops in towns.  Children are reportedly involved in prostitution. However, specific data on the commercial sexual exploitation of children in Eritrea is lacking. Although the law prohibits recruitment of children under 18 into the armed forces, concerns exist regarding the training and recruiting of children for military service.

Human Rights Reports » 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 25, 2009

[accessed 8 February 2020]

CHILDREN - During the year humanitarian groups and interlocutors anecdotally noted an increase from previous years in the amount of street children due in part to an increase in economic hardship. The government did not provide services to abate the increase. Further, there were no known reports of security forces abusing the children.

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [d] It was common for rural children who did not attend school to work on family farms, fetching firewood and water, and herding livestock, among other activities. In urban areas children could be seen in auto mechanic outfits working in car repair shops. Some children worked as street vendors of cigarettes, newspapers, or chewing gum to either supplement household income or at the behest of older children. There were no known instances of forced child labor.

The Protection Project - Eritrea [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO THE TRAFFICKING INFRASTRUCTURE - Several factors contribute to the existence of trafficking within Eritrea. The 1998–2000 war of independence from Ethiopia disrupted the national economic, social, and agricultural systems. Widespread poverty and hunger spread throughout the nation, as well as massive civilian displacement. As many as 70,000 deaths occurred during this period. Increasing numbers of women have been driven to prostitution as a means of supporting their families, and increasing numbers of children and other beggars are living on the streets.

Skills for Disadvantaged Children

Yoseph Tekle, Shaebia, Dec 22, 2008

[accessed 12 May 2011]

Meron Kifle is a 13 years old boy who is receiving training as auto-electrician at the Harat Garage in Asmara. He is the youngest of all the trainees. One can easily see the eagerness and the desire Meron has for knowledge—he enjoys the vocational training tremendously. He trains in the morning and goes to school in the afternoon. He has been training for 6 months.   “I am learning a lot from the training and would like to continue working here after completing the courses,” said Meron, who is now a 5th grade student at Dahlak Junior School in Asmara.   Meron is only one of the many street children who are getting training in various organizations through the help of the Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare. The children are trained in several fields that include general mechanics, electronics, auto-electricity, wood and metal works, among others.

Eritrea: Ministry Offers Vocational Training to Street Children in Northern Red Sea Region

Asmara, Massawa, 30 January 2008

[accessed 12 May 2011]

The branch office of the Ministry of Labor and Welfare in the Northern Red Sea region, in collaboration with different institutions, offered a one-year vocational training to 15 street children. The training focused on mechanics, electronics, auto-electricity, wood and metal works, among others.

The trainees on their part thanked the Ministry for providing the training and extending the necessary care and support. Meanwhile, financial assistance has been extended to 420 street children in Massawa and Ginda for baying school materials, according to reports.

Worst Forms of Child Labour Data

Eritrea: Global March Against Child Labour

[accessed 11 October 2012]

TOTAL CHILD LABOUR - GENERAL NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS - It is common for rural children who do not attend classes to work on family farms, fetching firewood and water, and herding livestock among other activities. In urban areas, some children work as street vendors of cigarette newspapers, or chewing gum. Children also work as child-minders, traders, and domestic accountants and in small-scale manufacturing.

Child Soldiers Global Report 2004 - Eritrea

Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers

[accessed 11 October 2012]

CHILD RECRUITMENT AND DEPLOYMENT - Despite the December 2000 peace treaty, compulsory military service was extended repeatedly, with aggressive roundups of new recruits and evaders, forcible conscription, detentions and ill-treatment.9 Street children and other under-18s were reportedly used as forced labour in military camps.

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