Cooperation initiative between Turkey and Colombia will foster capacities for access to decent work for all during and beyond COVID-19

Decent work is the root of social cohesion and the catalyst for employment opportunities and social protection as well as an essential response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With this in mind, the ILO facilitated two webinars on labour market governance, inclusive employment policies and access to social protection within the framework of the “South-south triangular cooperation (SSTC) initiative between Turkey and Colombia”.

News | 17 December 2020
(Ankara-Bogota)-Within the framework of the “South-south triangular cooperation (SSTC) initiative between Turkey and Colombia”, a platform for “Promoting decent work in refugee and mixed migration contexts: A south-south triangular cooperation (SSTC) initiative between Turkey and Colombia” was created for tripartite partners in Turkey and Colombia to both evaluate and support national capacities to promote access to decent work. In close cooperation with the ILO Office for Turkey and ILO Colombia, the platform hosted two webinars entitled “Labour Market Governance, Inclusive Employment Policies and Access to Social Protection in Refugee and Mixed Migration Contexts, with a Special Focus on COVID-19”. The platform and these digital events build on the two countries’ recent experiences receiving large-scale refugee and mixed migratory flows from neighbouring countries and facilitate exchanges that support the two countries’ efforts to design inclusive labour market policies with a specific focus on COVID-19 response.

With the participation of more than 30 tripartite constituents from Turkey and Colombia, three main themes were discussed: Labour market governance, inclusive employment policies, as well as the informal labour market and access to social protection for migrant and refugee workers as well as host communities.

Furthering dialogue between the government, workers and employers, the webinars are the first step towards understanding and anticipating the changing world of work, now and beyond COVID-19 era.

Developing new ways to improve self-reliance for refugees, migrants and host communities

The webinars were held on 9 and 14 December with the participation of Numan Özcan, Director of the ILO Office for Turkey and Anita Amorim, Unit Head of Emerging Partnerships, as well as Heloise Ruaudel, Senior Technical Specialist on Crisis Migration, both from ILO Headquarters in Geneva, and Francesco Carella, Regional Specialist Labour Migration from the ILO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Reminding participants that the access to decent work opportunities is fundamentally important for refugees and migrants, Mr. Numan Özcan, the Director of the ILO Office for Turkey, said:

“This is of crucial importance during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has substantially decreased refugees’ and migrants’ access to livelihoods opportunities. Our objectives must be to build the resilience of refugees, migrants and local communities alike, and creating enabling conditions for economic recovery. Refugees and migrants bring significant potential to contribute to their host countries and their engagement in the labour force contributes to local economies and can give a purpose to their lives”.

Mrs. Anita Amorim, the ILO Unit Head of Emerging Partnerships Department said: “South-South and triangular cooperation can support country-to-country cooperation, in the case of Colombia and Turkey, particular circumstances unite these two countries and they can learn from each other in how to deal with labour migration/refugee flows and gender equality, while protecting migrant and refugee workers’ rights.”

©Kivanc Ozvardar / ILO

Stronger national capacities for more protected and productive workers

In the context of COVID-19, many migrant and refugee workers, particularly women, are among the most vulnerable workers and face increasing unemployment, lack of social protection and worsening working conditions.

Reinforcing national capacities to respond to these realities, the SSTC initiative will contribute to ensuring adequate and effective protection at work for all. It will give tripartite partners from Turkey and Colombia a platform to exchange knowledge and lessons learned as well as develop tools to promote access to decent work for refugees, migrants and affected host communities, thereby increasing resilience and complementing humanitarian efforts.

With this aim, this initiative will reinforce respective capacities for creating decent work opportunities, reducing risks of social tension, and promoting inclusive economic growth as well as helping economies to rebound by improving productivity, as well as protection and empowerment of all workers.

The initiative is supported by the SSTC fund of the ILO and contributions from development cooperation projects in Turkey as well as in Colombia. The contributions from Turkey come from the “Decent Work Opportunities for Refugees and Host Communities in Turkey” project, which is funded by the US Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration and the contributions from Colombia come from an ILO-funded project entitled ”Improved labour migration Governance in Colombia” (Gobernabilidad de las migraciones mejorada en Colombia para promover empleos y trabajo decente).


Turkey is home to 4 million refugees, hosting the largest number of refugees in the world for the seventh year in a row. The vast majority, close to 3.6 million, come from Syria, while 400,000 are Afghanis, Iranians and Iraqis. To support refugees and host communities gain a living in decent working conditions, the ILO Office for Turkey is implementing a Refugee Response Programme and is contributing to the Livelihoods targets of the Turkey chapter of the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP).

Colombia hosts more than 1.7 million refugees and migrants coming from Venezuela due to the complex socioeconomic and political situation in the country. Venezuelans seek to access employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in Colombia in order to secure a living for themselves and their families back in Venezuela. The ILO Office in Colombia is promoting access to decent work for migrants and refugees through the project Improved labour migration Governance in Colombia.

For more information, please contact:

Gizem Karslı

Employment and Education Officer
ILO Office for Ankara