World Humanitarian Summit 2016

Event highlights decent work in addressing Syrian refugee crisis

A high-level ILO side event held in Istanbul underlines the role of decent work in addressing the Syrian refugee crisis.

Press release | Istanbul, Turkey | 25 May 2016
ISTANBUL, Turkey (ILO News) – The response to the Syrian refugee crisis must emphasise the importance of decent work as a vital bridge between humanitarian and development solutions, a high level panel in Istanbul has heard.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) side event at the World Humanitarian Summit held 23-24 May in İstanbul, and moderated by ILO Director-General Guy Ryder, opened with a keynote speech by Minister of Labour and Social Security Süleyman Soylu.

The Minister said Turkey provided the basic needs for refugees including education and health services as well as vocational training and skills development. He also recalled Turkey’s adoption of the Temporary Protection and the Work Permits Regulation which had opened up pathways for refugees to find decent jobs. “Greater support and commitment were needed by the international community,” Soylu emphasised.

“Addressing the impacts of the Syrian refugee crisis must be recognized as a global shared responsibility for the international community and it should not be just the responsibility of one or a few countries simply due to their geographical position,” said Ryder. “Additionally, there must be a bridge between humanitarian assistance and development solutions. And it is clear decent work serves as an important bridge between two.”

Panellists including workers' and employers' representatives also pointed to the need for further support and commitment of the international community; creating decent job opportunities; tripartite engagement; increased public and private cooperation and reform of labour laws in preventing exploitation, unequal treatment, low wages, job insecurity and denial of labour rights for both refugees and host communities.

The Governor of Kilis, Süleyman Tapsız, lauded the ILO’s efforts to support local activities in addressing the crisis-related problems. He noted that in his region, the refugee population has now exceeded that of the local population.

Adalet Budak Akbaş of the regional development administration from the GAP region, where the Syrian refugees are densely populated, underscored the heavy strains and challenges of creating jobs and supporting access to labour markets for refugees.

The ILO is supporting activities in the resettlement centre and surrounding area by promoting decent work opportunities for refugees and host communities. This includes labour market and value chain analyses, attitudinal surveys of employers and national workers, skills assessments and upgrading, promoting employment services and local economic development.

Members of the panel included Ergün Atalay, President of Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (TÜRK-İŞ); Erol Kiresepi, Vice-President of Turkish Confederation of Employer Associations (TİSK); Süleyman Tapsız, Governor of Kilis and Adalet Budak Akbaş, Social Affairs Coordinator, GAP Regional Development Administration.