Syrian migrants in Turkey set up shop, seeking the right to work

Author: Piotr Zalewski, Financial Times, Published on: 5 January 2016

Spearheaded by the likes of Mr Fansa, a migrant economy [in Turkey] is beginning to take root. With a population of 77m, Turkey is home to more than 2.2m Syrians, nearly four times the number at the end of 2013... An estimated 400,000 have found illegal work. Most find themselves working underpaid, menial jobs, however, unable to benefit from social security and vulnerable to exploitative, sometimes abusive employers...Turkey has issued 3,686 permits to Syrians since 2011...In an agreement reached in November, European leaders offered Ankara $3.2bn in aid, the prospect of visa-free travel to the EU for Turkish citizens, and the reopening of stalled talks on the country’s application for EU membership that began in 2005. In exchange, Turkey pledged to increase patrols on the border with Greece, crack down on human traffickers, and improve Syrians’ access to schools and jobs. Lifting all restrictions on job market access, however, is unlikely. “We’re talking about a population of over 1m people of working age,” says one official. “That’s a big challenge for any country."...He adds: “Syrians can be an asset for Turkey. If the law allows them to work, there is a lot they can do. If they can work here, they will remain here, and they will give back to this country.”


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