A symposium on immigration and refugees heard that the majority of the more than 3,000 Syrian workers informally employed in Istanbul’s Ikitelli Organized Industrial Zone are children with an average age of six years whose place of origin is Europe.
The symposium also heard that European governments are partially responsible for children who are employed in contract manufacturing in several parts of the world.
Journalist Ercument Akdeniz revealed that the average age of child labor in Turkey has declined to six due to the more than three million Syrians who came to the country since 2011.
The pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya Agency (MA) reported on Sunday that Akdeniz, a columnist for the Turkish Evrensel daily, made this revelation while delivering a paper on child labor in Turkey during an Immigration, refugees and discrimination symposium organized by the Peoples Democratic Congress (HDK) in Istanbul.
HDK is a union of numerous left-wing political movements, organizations and parties in Turkey. It represents oppressed, exploited individuals who face ethnic, religious or gender discrimination in the country.
In his presentation entitled ‘Power, exploitation of labor and its struggle,’ the journalist on Sunday raised concern over Syrian workers and child labor in Turkey.
“The majority of the working children in Turkey have certainly lost their mother, father or a family member and have taken on the responsibility of the whole family. Their living conditions force these children to look like adults before they can even enjoy their childhood,” the journalist emphasized.
Akdeniz also pointed at the data released by the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK) that there were 2 million child workers in the country before the arrival of Syrian refugees.
“This figure has reached 2.5 million after the immigration triggered by the Syrian civil war [that started in 2011]. Immigration has also changed the average age of child labor. The age of child labor has dropped to six and working hours have increased,” he elaborated.
He also expressed that the Syrians, who are traumatized by the war in their country, are traumatized for the second time in Turkey mainly due to being undesired in either work life or social life.
“There is a serious prejudice against Syrians. They have become a community that is jointly otherized by all segments of society [in Turkey], although surveys show that 52 percent of them do not want to stay in the country,” the journalist outlined.
The Syrian refugees started fleeing from their country in the wake of the civil war that broke out between the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and anti-government rebels in 2011.
Last year’s economic slump in Turkey led to increasing discontent and hostility towards the Syrian refugees from different segments of the Turkish population over worries that they are taking jobs, driving down wages and driving up rents.