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Syrian Workers in Turkey Suffering Due to COVID-19

2020-05-01

The suffering of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in Turkey, who found themselves overnight, with no source of income to support them and their families at this critical time, continues with the closure orders in Turkey, as part of efforts to contain the outbreak of the new Corona virus.

Turkish workers who have been laid off since March are entitled to 1.200 pounds ($ 170) per month from the state, but this benefit does not apply to hundreds of thousands of Syrians, most of whom work in the informal economy, many of whom work on a daily basis.

According to press reports, clothing stores and malls were closed across the country, and many suppliers stopped their activities, while Ankara was trying to contain the pandemic that caused the deaths of nearly 3.000 people in the country.

A senior official said this week that the government aims to start reviving economic activity in late May.

Thousands of Syrians fear being expelled from their homes, which would create a major crisis, especially as Turkey hosts 3.6 million Syrians, representing the largest refugee gathering in the world, all of whom fled the war that began 9 years ago.

Most of these refugees live in Istanbul, or near the southern Turkish border with Syria, and a small minority live in refugee camps, mostly working in the garment, manufacturing, construction or hospitality sector.

“We do not know how many Syrians have been laid off, we are almost talking about the possibility that there will be between 700.000 and 800.000 informal Syrian workers in the job market”, said Omar Kadkoy, policy analyst at the Economic Policy Research Foundation in Turkey (TEPF), in press statements.

A Turkish Ministry of Labor spokeswoman said only Turkish workers can get the aid decided by the government, pointing out that Syrians are getting support, through projects of the United Nations and the European Union.

However, Syrians say that a European Union-funded plan to distribute monthly cash through the Turkish Red Crescent to refugees is limited to families with 3 or more children, or families without men of working age.

 

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