HUGO: 400,000 Syrians working unregistered in Turkey

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Around 400,000 out of the total 2.2 million Syrian migrants currently living in Turkey are working as unregistered and undocumented workers, according to fresh research from Hacettepe University’s Center for Migration and Political Studies (HUGO).

The influx of Syrians fleeing the civil war in Turkey’s southern neighbor since 2011 actually exceeds the total number of migrants received by the country since the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. However, the number of Syrians working unregistered or illegally is unknown due to lack of research, prompting the Turkish Confederation of Employer Associations (TİSK) to prepare a report on the issue in collaboration HUGO.

The results show that 1.2 million of the Syrians currently in Turkey are under the age of 18, while 150,000 children have been born of Syrian parents in Turkey since 2011.

The total number of Syrians in Turkey is estimated to be between 2.2 and 2.5 million, with around 90 percent of them living outside of the official refugee camps built near the border cities. The report estimates that the Syrian population in Turkey will increase to 3.5 million over next five years.

Just 3,686 of the Syrians in Turkey are registered workers. The number of unregistered Syrian workers is 400,000, many of whom are children working in unhealthy conditions with low wages.

Unregistered Syrian workers accept jobs at wages one-third of those received by Turkish workers on average, according to the report. Child labor is also a growing problem, with increasing numbers of Syrian children forced to work illegally.

HUGO head Murat Erdoğan said there are 150,000 unregistered Syrians in the southeastern province of Gaziantep alone, which borders Syria.

Meanwhile, almost all business established by Syrians in Turkey are unregistered.

According to the TİSK-HUGO report, there are currently 600,000 school-age Syrian children in Turkey, but only 15 to 20 percent have access to education, heralding an impending generational catastrophe.

The report also estimates that the Syrian population in Turkey will increase to 3.5 million over next five years.

As part of research for the report, 134 Syrian migrants were interviewed over five months, in 18 provinces where a majority of Syrians in Turkey are located.

The report found that the rate of people who are against the employment of Syrians in Turkey is 44 percent in those Syrian-heavy provinces, while this number is 48 percent in the other provinces.

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