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A Glance At Garbage Collecting Tragedy in Iran

Iranian boy searching through garbage for livelihood

Simultaneous with the economic crisis in Iran due to the regime’s corruption and malign policies, social disasters continue to grow. One of them is the rising number of labor children and garbage collectors. Iranian people live in misery while the regime spends billions of dollars on its nuclear and missile programs.

On Tuesday, Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani, head of Tehran’s City Council, spoke of the “garbage mafia” using deprived labor children, workers, and foreign nationals. According to Hashemi, there are at least 14,000 garbage collectors in Tehran alone.

“The garbage mafia, by using working children and foreign nationals, homeless individuals, and deprived workers, has caused social harm. This is in addition to creating environmental issues and threatening the health of society. The second obstacle is the daily life of urban management and lack of courage to make a fundamental change in the municipal waste system,” Hashemi said.

According to a study in 2018, the number of garbage collectors in Tehran is 14,000, out of which 4700 are children. Forty percent of these children have no educations, 37% have dropped out of school due to poverty, and 59% of them are accompanied during garbage collecting. 69% of these children scavenge and collect garbage without gloves and work for at least 10 hours per day.

“Dry waste turnover in Tehran is about three thousand billion Tomans per year, 70% of which is the share of informal garbage collection. In recent years, many contractors have earned so much money in contracts with municipalities to take responsibility for collecting and sorting dry waste. They have now become very rich,” wrote the state-run Shar news agency in September 2020.

The “Society of Imam Ali” charity published a report in 2019, underlining that labor children collect an average of 60kgs of garbage a day, and they live in waste segregation workshops. These workshops are usually garages on the outskirts of the city without the most basic sanitation facilities, and the garbage collecting children are exposed to a variety of infectious diseases.

On March 29, 2018, in an article titled, “Garbage collecting children are cheap labor,” the state-run ILNA news agency wrote, “The municipality is faced with a problem. If it stops the garbage collecting activities, it will be forced to pay higher wages to workers of legal age. These children can’t claim their rights through legal channels. And this is why they’re being abused. These children are considered cheap labor, and contractors prefer to keep them at any cost.” These innocent children go through lots of forms of physical and psychological mistreatments.


According to the state-run Tasnim News agency in October 2019, “The lack of official oversight on the situation of garbage collector children has enabled some municipality contractors to abuse these children and make huge profits from their daylong work while giving them a very little reward.”

Tasnim acknowledged that “Most of these children spend the night in the garbage lots and live there, and we all know how vulnerable they are. Some of these children are infected with Hepatitis, AIDS, Typhoid, and Tetanus.”

While the regime-linked mafias misuse innocent Iranian children, the regime wastes national resources for continuing its nuclear and missile programs and funding terrorist groups. Therefore, in their daily protests, Iranians chant: “our country sits on treasure, but we live in poverty”.

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