Fashion Brands Ignore 'Endemic' Abuse of Syrian Refugees In Turkey: Watchdog



Child labour, pitiful pay and dangerous conditions are among the risks facing undocumented Syrian refugees working in Turkey's garment industry, according to the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre.

Big fashion brands are failing to protect Syrian refugees from "endemic" abuse in Turkish clothing factories supplying European retailers, a monitoring group said on Tuesday.

Almost 3 million refugees — more than half aged under 18 — have fled to Turkey to escape war in Syria. Many work illegally in Turkey's garment industry, which supplies $17 billion in clothing and shoes a year, mostly to Europe, especially Germany.

A Reuters investigation this year found evidence of Syrian refugee children in Turkey working in clothes factories in illegal conditions. Turkey bans children under 15 from working.

The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre said many brands justified inaction on labor exploitation by denying the existence of refugees of any age in their supply chains.

In its survey, drawn up with trade unions and rights advocates, only nine brands reported that they had found unregistered Syrian refugees on factory floors.

Until this year, Syrians were not entitled to work permits, so many refugees worked informally.

Turkey started to issue permits in January, but the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre said "the vast majority of Syrian refugees continue to work without legal protections, making them vulnerable to abuse".




By Thomson Reuters Foundation's Timothy Large, additional reporting by Zabihullah Noori; editor: Ros Russell.




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