FWF guidance on risks related to Turkish garment factories employing Syrian refugees 2017

As the Syrian refugee crisis enters its sixth year, Turkey now hosts an estimated 2.75 million Syrian refugees, the largest number of any country. Half of the Syrians in Turkey are under 18 years of age, and more than 1 million are under the age of 15. Around 300 000 people are being assisted by formal camps, however the majority of Syrians are now living in towns and cities across Turkey.

The number of refugees, the length of their stay, now measured in years, and an ongoing shortfall in support from the international community (e.g. only 66% of the resources requested by the UN in 2016 were donated), continues to put strain on Turkish relief systems, and poses enormous difficulties for refugees. Despite these challenges, Turkey has established a strong asylum framework through the Law on Foreigners and International Protection and the Temporary Protection Regulation. Efforts continue to address the immediate humanitarian needs of refugees, and to support longer-term needs by offering health care and education, and by publishing regulations that provide a legal pathway for Syrians to gain access to the labour market.

The Regulations Concerning Work Permits of Foreigners under Temporary Protection entered into force on 15 January 2016. Under this law, Syrian refugees are legally able to obtain a work permit, though in practice many obstacles remain in implementation of the law. A total of 13 298 permits were issued to Syrian workers in 2016 for all industries,5 but with stakeholders estimating the number of Syrians working in the garment industry at between 250 000 and 400 000, the risks to undocumented workers remains high.

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