In Yemen, children do adult jobs. They work as welders and mechanics, vendors and waiters. They do hazardous and undesirable jobs that grown men don't want.

Though accurate numbers are hard to come by, it is believed that up to 10 percent of the workforce are children. They flee to the cities from their rural homes to find work or escape domestic abuse. Many send their money back home to their families.

Poverty is the main driver of child labour. Over 80 per cent of the population lives in remote rural areas, where access to basic services is limited. These hardships are exacerbated by discrimination against girls and women, high fertility, large family size and a limited food supply.

Yemeni women each have an average of seven children, and often struggle to raise their children alone, with their husbands absent or unemployed. Therefore, a child who can help support the family is sent off to do so. There is also a long tradition of migrant labor in Yemen.

Yet many children in search of work end up living on the streets of cities, dependent on handouts to survive. Some are arrested and detained, often for months, in juvenile detention centres. And children increasingly are being trafficked over borders as labourers.

Yemen is committed to building a protective environment for children and is actively formulating policies on child protection and the prevention of trafficking, including psychosocial support and family tracing services for affected children. Yet until the core issues poverty, a lack of education, discrimination and abuse are addressed, the social safety net for children will remain thin indeed.

© UNICEF/HQ07-2052/Pirozzi
A boy works in a market selling vegetables, Taiz.