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Refugees in Turkish Garment Industry

Over the course of two years and three surveys, we investigated the actions being taken by large European fashion brands to prevent exploitation of Syrian refugees in the Turkish garment industry.

Syrian refugees in Turkish garment supply chains: What are companies doing to end exploitation?

In late 2015, we began tracking large European fashion brands' action to prevent exploitation of Syrian refugees in the Turkish garment industry, after worrying reports of pitiful wages, child labour and sexual abuse for refugees working without permits. Since then, we have surveyed almost 40 companies three times. Our latest survey found that more leading fashion brands making efforts to prevent exploitation of Syrian refugees in Turkish supply chains than last year, but there is still need for a coordinated effort from the industry as a whole.

This microsite lets you explore and compare brands' responses to our October 2016 survey. The responses to our 2017 have not been made public due to concerns this might impact negatively on companies trying to support refugees into formal employment, but you can read the resulting briefing which presents our findings from the disclosure.


February 2016

Initial research finds specific policies lacking and auditing processes not fit for purpose, but does identify outlying good practice.

October 2016

We carry out a second survey and analysis of company action to address exploitation and abuse.

November 2017

Our final report builds on earlier analysis, exploring the actions of 37 brands to to protect Syrian refugees in their supply chains.

What's the issue?

Almost 3 million refugees have fled to Turkey to escape war and bloodshed in Syrian – this influx creates a genuine challenge for government, businesses and the local population. Refugees want safety and security for themselves and their families and income from employment is critical to this. The garment industry in Turkey has the potential provide some of this decent work, but exploitation of refugees in the supply chains that produce clothes for Europe’s high streets is widespread.

Pitiful wages, child labour and sexual abuse is reported to be the reality for some Syrian refugees working without permits in Turkey, posing a major challenge for the garment brands that source from the country.

What we did

In February 2016 we asked 28 brands to complete a detailed questionnaire on the action they were taking to protect Syrian refugees in their supply chain. The questionnaire was developed in consultation with trade unions, the Fair Labor Association (FLA), the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), and local advocates.

In October 2016 we followed up our initial outreach, asking 38 brands the same set of questions. We received 25 responses in total, and have also provided Nike's response from January as it declined to update its answers.

In November 2017 we approached 37 brands with a set of questions that can be viewed at the link below. Twenty-nine brands responded in full to the questionnaire, two brands sent general statements, and six brands did not respond.