Addressing the Labour Market Impacts of Refugees and Other Forcibly Displaced People

Erhan BATUR 22.03.2016

Thank you Madam Chair,

The refugee crisis we face mainly because of the conflict in Syria today cannot be defined solely as a “flow of refugees”. It has long gone beyond this and started to evolve from being a humanitarian tragedy into an integration issue with social, economic, financial and demographic consequences experienced by both refugees and host communities. The migration flows cause increase in the supply of labour, a downward pressure on wages and job losses among the people of local community. Thus, it has serious implications on Turkey’s labour life and it changes the dynamics of local labour markets.

The percentage of working age people comprises about 50% of 2.7 million Syrians in Turkey. With people from other countries like Iraq and Afghanistan it outnumbers 3 million. It is estimated that currently around 300 thousand Syrians are active in our labour market.

As the largest refugee hosting country, my Government has recently taken another important step by introducing a new regulation granting work permits to Syrian refugees registered under temporary protection status with a view to addressing the abovementioned problems. The new regulation was immediately put into practice and work permit applications are now being processed.

With the new regulation, Syrian refugees have now access to labour market without any sector restriction. They will be paid no less than national minimum wage. They are covered by the social security regime and subject to same rights and obligations as the Turkish nationals including active labour market services once they are in labour market. Furthermore, we continue to introduce administrative regulations with a view to increasing and strengthening the capacity of the relevant institutions. I would like to remind that Turkey has so far spent 10 billion USD for the needs of the Syrians, whereas the total contributions from the international community have been limited to 462 million USD.

Madam Chair,

We would like to stress that current policies should be reviewed and revised; more efforts should be made to increase cooperation. Neighbouring host countries should not be left alone to deal with regional problems and a balanced burden sharing should be ensured. As it is well put in the document by the Office, it is the high time for the international community to renew its efforts to overcome the difficulties exposed by the crisis by forging a unified, coherent and adequate response. Indeed, we believe that the agreement between Turkey and the EU which targets to eliminate the people smugglers' business model and removes the incentive to seek irregular routes to the EU, in full accordance with international law, will be successful in preventing more loss of lives.

With these comments, I would like to thank all who showed their solidarity with Turkey in these difficult times and reiterate that we are ready to cooperate on the subject matter.

Thank you Madam Chair.


Sadık Arslan Ambassador

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