As families around the world celebrate International Children's Day by playing games and attending colorful festivals, eight-year-old Adel al-Ghossain finds himself scavenging dirty, dusty street corners and garbage bins for any reusable rubbish for his family who live in one of the many Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon.
Adel piles his cache of plastic bottles and cans carefully into the two bags that he carries on his shoulders, knowing that his family depends on the income his hard work will bring.
The small boy tells a Xinhua reporter that he collects the plastic cans, which will eventually be sold to traders who recycle the material. He brings in only about two to four and a half U.S. dollars per day this way.
Though for many people throughout the world June 1 is meant to uplift children, the images of Syrian children living in tattered refugee camps stands in stark contrast to the celebrations elsewhere. Displaced Syrian children are increasingly driven out of school to support their families, as poverty and the three years of civil war in their home country deprive them of a healthy childhood and basic rights.
Adel, who lives in a camp in the Al Marj town of the east Bekaa region with his parents and seven brothers and sisters, does not go to school.
Two of his brothers are lucky enough to be enrolled in a public school near their camp, but the eight-year-old said he was forced to work because of the grinding poverty his family faces, making it hard for them to even attain food.
Reports said that more Syrian children registered as refugees in Lebanon are working in factories and in agricultural fields. Amer Obeid, 14, works in a car workshop for a daily wage of about six and a half dollars a day.
The teenager works from 7:00 a.m. till 6:00 p.m. to support his widowed mother and five brothers and sisters, providing their daily food.
"What the aid agencies are giving us barely covers 30 percent of our needs," he said. "My father was killed in the war two years ago and now my mother works as housemaid. We are barely able to pay our monthly rent which is about 150 dollars."
Like many Syrian refugee children Obeid was in school but dropped out to support his family instead.
Salma al-Hashem, a social worker with the Lebanese Red Cross, disapproves of child labor among Syrian refugees, saying that her organization runs programs to cater to this particular group.
"We organize special entertainment programs and health awareness seminars for the Syrian children but this is not what they really need," she said.
"Syrian children lived the horrors of destruction, fighting and killing then were deprived of their homes and state protections like health care and education," she said, stressing that the international community needs to act quickly to address the situation of children displaced by war who, if neglected and marginalized, can turn to violent behavior as a coping mechanism.
Security sources in the Bekaa region told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that many crimes have been committed by and to Syrian children between the ages of 10 to 17 years.
"Syrian children have been arrested on crimes of theft and robbery, in addition to cases involving homosexuality and rape cases among them," the source said.
According to the latest UN reports, the number of Syrians displaced to neighboring countries has crossed the two million benchmark, with Lebanon hosting the highest number of refugees in proportion to its population.
The high influx of Syrian refugees to Lebanon creates a huge economic and social burden on the Lebanese government. The country has called on the international community to fulfill its pledges to support it.