Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Refugees in Turkey

Turkish law is unambiguous: Child labour is forbidden. Anyone employing girls and boys younger than 15 is liable to be prosecuted. Nonetheless, the children work in the textile or agricultural industries, as cutters, or as harvest workers in the fields. Anywhere where the state doesn't look too closely and where social security contributions and occupational safety are ignored.

According to the Education Ministry, at least 300,000 Syrian children still have no access to schooling. Aid organizations assume that the actual figure is much higher.

Many children are exploited because their parents are poor. Aras has two sisters, and her mother is pregnant again. Her father has a job, but he works illegally. Even with the extra money Aras is earning, the family can barely survive. Their two-room apartment is far too small; all five of them sleep in the same room. "We have to send Aras out to work," said her father, Abdurrahman Ali. "In Syria my salary was enough to support us all. But here everything is so expensive; I simply can't do it alone."

Since the start of 2016, Syrians with refugee status have been allowed to apply for work permits in Turkey. In practice, though, that's far from easy. At the start of 2017, according to government estimates, fewer than 1 percent of people eligible had such a permit.

Sezen Yalcin, who works for the rights organization Support to Life, explained,  "It's very important to understand the root causes and focus on Syrian integration in Turkey," she said. "These families do not have access to decent jobs to sustain their lives and families. It's essential to invest in Syrians' access to the labor market, their capacities for integration into the labor market, in order to build up their resilience."

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