The NGO Refugees International has published a report entitled “I Am Only Looking for My Rights: Legal Employment Still Inaccessible to Refugees in Turkey”. Through a field research, refugees’ testimonies and an analysis of the applicable legal and policy provisions, the report examines the challenges and consequences that refugees face when they seek employment in Turkey.

The report explains how Turkish law, despite granting refugees and temporary protection beneficiaries the right to work, establishes a number of practical obstacles to accessing legal employment in practice. As a consequence, refugees become trapped in a cycle of informal work where the risk of exploitation and abuse is high and wages are low. Refugees in Turkey reported working excessively long hours often in difficult working conditions and being paid a faction of their Turkish counterparts. The lack of decent wages for adult refugees pushes many refugee children into the job market as well, instead of attending school. According to the report, 41% of all Syrian children in Turkey do not go to school.

Discrimination is also a key obstacle for refugees when looking for a job. Refugees often face a climate of hostility and negative myths about the impact of refugees on Turkish society. Moreover, the report highlights that since employers must pay a work permit fee of 537 Turkish Liras (118€) in order to employ a refugee, they are often reluctant to do so.

The ability to engage in decent work is a fundamental human right, integral to human dignity and self-respect. Failure to ensure proper access to the labour market hinders the ability of a beneficiary of international protection to successfully integrate into their new society, and leaves them at risk of destitution.


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Photo: (c) Refugees International, December 2017