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Turkey’s apparel sector employing young refugees

Some of Europe’s biggest garment retailers have supplier factories in Turkey. Now, Syrian refugee children have been found working in these factories. It’s estimated that a few lakh Syrian refugees work illegally in Turkey – the third largest supplier of clothing to Europe after China and Bangladesh.

Some brands have identified the children and taken action to return them to school and to support their families. But the fact is that only a few brands appear to have engaged with the extent and complexity of these issues in their Turkish supply base; even fewer report taking action to protect these vulnerable workers.

Turkey has taken in the largest number of Syrian refugees in the world, accepting some 2.5 million people who have fled the country in the wake of the five-year civil conflict. Germany accepted 1.1 million refugees last year, while Sweden has taken in 1,60,000.

A survey has found that the refugee influx could deliver long term economic benefits to the EU if the refugees are properly integrated into the job market. The UK continues to face criticism for its stringent refugee policy. The opinion is that the number of refugees welcomed by the UK is far too low compared with that taken in by other European countries.