Amid stinky piles of garbage in central the Iraqi capital Baghdad, seven-year-old Khaled was carefully foraging for scraps of food to eat and some useful stuff to sell.
Khaled is a member of a team that wakes up early in the morning to start a strenuous day amid garbage, toxic gases, flies and rats.
At first, I could not endure the stench, but now my nose got used to it, Khaled said while removing his forehead sweat with his blackened hands.
Khaled, whose family fled home amid violent fighting between Iraqi forces and ISIS terror group.
Other families left their homes under pressures from Iran-allied IMIS militias.
Since 2003, the violence in the war-ravaged Iraq has left hundreds of thousands of Iraqi displaced whether inside Iraq or abroad.
Human rights groups told The Baghdad Post that the number of children working in collecting trash can be estimated at tens of thousands.
They added women and aged men sometimes join those children.
Samar, 9, along with her eight brothers and sisters, said she knows nothing in her life but garbage.
"Often we separate and categorize things, each item alone: bread, plastics, clothes, shoes, and even vegetables, leftovers, and food materials that only sheep would eat," Samar said.
"We collect all of these and sell them to people that could make use of them by selling them to other people or by using them,” she added.
Sometimes, improvised explosives are frequently planted within trash piles.
Samar told The Baghdad Post that dozens of children lost their lives in IED bombings.
Dozens of children lost their parents. They are required to depend on themselves to earn their living.
According to the Iraqi law and the treaties Baghdad has signed with international institutions, all kinds of child labor are incriminated.
Despite this fact, the number of child laborers in the war-torn country is on the increase, the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights has documented.
Being neglected by both governmental and international agencies, small children are forced to work to meet the basic needs of their families.
Large proportion of children face exploitation from employers.
This leads a lot of them to resort to begging or working as garbage collectors.
The world's second-largest oil reserves
Despite the fact that Iraq owns the world's second-largest proven oil reserves, the country moans under a severe economic situation.
Added to the exacerbating economic crises, corruption in Iraq is becoming intolerable in every aspect of government in the country.
Amid these conditions, lots of families are using their children to get additional income, rights activists said.
Some NGOs along with Iraqi Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs try to provide support for those children.
But the deteriorating security situation alongside the limited funds have reduced such support.