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Child Labour in Our World
By b.yaacoub
11 Jun 2015

It may sound like old news to some, but one of the scary realities of our world is that some of the biggest problems facing humanity occur without explosions, protests, or big news headlines. Often, those who suffer the most suffer in silence, far away from the eyes of news cameras and the international community.

Child Labour is one of those problems that passes largely unnoticed. All over the world, across cultural, social, and religious divides, child labour persists. Sometimes it occurs as the simple act of a well-intended parent taking their child to work in the farm fields by their side. Other times, it is malicious factory owners using children as cheap labour in their factory, where they are abused and underpaid.

What makes the issue more complicated is that child labour can occur in front of our eyes, without us noticing. Sometimes understanding child labour is understanding what is not visible to us. It is understanding that a working child is not attending school, that a working child is malnourished, and that a working child is physically and psychologically abused. The difference between a child helping their mother in the family shop and child exploitation could be the simple question of whether or not the child’s work is preventing them from attending school. The line can sometimes be fine and other times glaring.

At Transterra Media, our contributors have documented child labour around the world for years, from the brick factories of Bangladesh, to the garbage piles of Cambodia, and the car repair shops of Syria. Our contributors have shed a small amount of light on a massive issue that the world is still trying to address.

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Lebanese Town Fights to Stop Foreign ...
By Rachel K
10 Feb 2015

Yarzeh, Lebanon
February 13, 2015

An influential resident of the town of Yarzeh, which overlooks Beirut, and the Emirati Embassy in Lebanon are digging water wells, in violation of a municipal decree.
Digging wells was banned because it threatens water supplies in the neighbouring town of Baabda.
Concerned residents and the head of the municipal council in Yarzeh have petitioned the Lebanese authorities to stop the drilling. However, there are suspicions that the authorities are under pressure “from outside Lebanon” that prevents them from stopping the drilling.



“Among the trees in Yarzeh, a town that looks like a military zone due to the large number of embassies, a drilling machine works relentlessly at the construction site of the United Arab Emirates in Lebanon.”

SOUNDBITE (English) Reporter speaks to construction workers

  • Can we take pictures of the embassy?
  • No, no. It is not allowed.
  • What is this here?
  • I don’t know. Talk to [staff] members. I am a guard.
  • When did they start the work?
  • I don’t know, about a week ago.

“When we talked to the town’s residents and the head of the municipality, we received a reply that explains the legal aspect of the issue.”

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Henry al-Helou, Head of Baabda and Yarzeh Municipal Council
“The land where the Emirati Embassy [is being built] belongs to a foreign country and follows special regulations. As a municipality, we do not have the right to interfere with them. We have to refer with the concerned authorities about that. We cannot address this issue at the municipality.”

00:58 SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Woman) Jumana Asseily, Director of the Yarzeh Development Association
“I think the problem is that there is large pressure from outside Lebanon. The head of the Municipal Council cannot stop this and neither can we.”

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Woman) Claude Serhal, Resident of Yarzeh
“I do not know who is backing them, but everyone in this county has connections.”

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Henry al-Helou, Head of Baabda and Yarzeh Municipal Council
“We petitioned the Beirut and Mount Lebanon Water Company, and we demanded that the well digging be stopped. That was on February 4, 2015.”

SOUNDBITE (Man, Arabic) Bassam al-Qintar, Environmental Expert
“There are hundreds of thousands of wells that cover Lebanon’s surface from the north to the south. There is not anyone in Lebanon who has not drilled a well. This is leading to the loss of Lebanon’s strategic water reserves. Each year, we extract water from wells at a pace that is depleting underground reservoirs. We have a very long summer and short winter and precipitation is scarce. If we carry on extracting underground water at the same rate, we will face a very severe drought and water resources will became salinized. A large number of these wells have already dried up.”

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Woman) Jumana Asseily, Director of the Yarzeh Development Association
“We sent a petition to the governor of Mount Lebanon. We sent a letter to the Ministry of Interior. We sent a letter to the Emirati Embassy and we tried to have an appointment with the Ambassador to address this issue, but we did not receive any reply.”

“This issue has raised concerns among the residents of Yarzeh and Baabda, after other people have started to dig unlicensed wells in their private gardens. The municipal police can see this and have tried in vain to stop the work several times. We tried to talk with the owners of this well.

SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Recorded phone conversation

  • Hello
  • Who is this?
  • Are you Mr. Noel?
  • No. Who wants to talk to him?
  • We are from Transterra Media. We talked to him on Friday about an interview concerning the well being dug in his garden.
  • There is nothing, there is nothing…
  • We spoke to him on Friday, and he said that he will get back to us but he did not. I would like to know if they would like to talk in front of the camera.
  • I will tell him, OK.
  • I need to know because we want to film today. [Speaker hangs up].

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Henry al-Helou, Head of Baabda and Yarzeh Municipal Council
“Concerning Mia Khoury – Mia Ayyoub Khoury – the well she is digging is adjacent to the main well in Baabda. This is not allowed. This depletes water.”

“If you ask around in Baabda, you will be told that it is not allowed to dig wells because they are worried about the water supplies. Each house in Yarzeh cannot have an individual well.”

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Woman) Jumana Asseily, Director of the Yarzeh Development Association

“I hear some Yarzeh residents say when they see other people digging wells, ‘Why can we not dig wells, too?’ If I go to the Emirates and decide to dig a well – even if I represented an embassy – I know that I would need a permit. What should I do then? Should I break the law? What would they do to me if I broke the law?”


“When the officials at the embassy refused to make any statement, it was necessary to communicate with the governor of Mount Lebanon, which oversees the municipality. The latter, however, said that he needs permission from the Minister of Interior Nuhad al-Mashnuq to talk in front of the camera. One of the minister’s advisors said clearly that we need permission from the minister to be able to talk to the governor. ‘So far, you shall not be given that permission,’ the advisor added.
This reply came four days after the request. Despite diligent daily attempts to obtain information, the advisor was not able to meet the minister and convey to him the request for the interview. This incident is as unusual as these wells.”