Makeshift settlements surround this massive trash field in the countryside of Idlib Syria
the last remaining stronghold of Syrian opposition after 10 years of civil war.
Nearly 1 million people have fled their homes in Idlib and many are still displaced
trapped between the warring parties.
These families eke out a living by collecting and selling recyclable items they find in the garbage.
Many of the workers are children.
My name is Hassan Khader Alhamdi and I am 12 years old.
I collect plastic bags for work.
I leave at the morning and come back in night I bring food and bread for my siblings.
Hassans mother says she wishes she could send her children to school instead of work
but she sees no other way for her family to have enough money for food.
Of course this will impact their entire future. They have no school no education.
Some children here do go to school
but administrators say many come in late or leave early for their jobs
and teachers say child labor also drives up adult unemployment making the region even poorer.
Child labor affects everything in society and when it increases so does unemployment
employers hire children for low pay replacing adults.
Human rights watch says two million displaced syrian children are currently out of school.
For many like 11 year old Ali Alhamedi who works at the dump with his brother Hassan
returning to school seems like a far away dream.
I wish I could go to school it would be better but we are working.
Unicef says around the world it is likely
that millions more children are now being pushed into the workforce because of the pandemic
and the longer children are out of school the organization says
the less likely they are to ever have the chance to return.
Heather murdock voa news