Syrian child laborers earn $25 a week
One of the negative aspects of the long nine-day bayram vacation has been traffic accidents resulting in 134 deaths, but another one could be that important stories were overlooked during the vacation.
The story that Syrian migrant children in Turkey have been hired as child laborers has likely not been noticed.
American television CBS filmed Syrian children in various parts of Istanbul working to contribute to their poor families or being forced to work. The TV crew filmed small children working at textile workshops in the basements of Istanbul as well as a 10-year-old Syrian child selling vegetables in a market. This child, Hüseyin, was able to go to school for just one year in his country. He now works 12 hours a day, six days a week, earning $25 a week.
When you think that 57 percent of Syrian immigrants in Turkey are poor, Hüseyin’s contribution to his family is important.
It’s exactly like the contributions of the small Syrian kids I saw working in a Gaziantep restaurant years ago before the war started.
The Syrian child labor in Istanbul filmed by the CBS television and broadcast to the world is a small portion of the Syrian drama. This humanitarian tragedy has peaked now with child labor, with deaths at sea and with tens of thousands waiting at border posts.
Meanwhile, why did the escape from Turkey to the West accelerate recently?
Why do Syrian migrants who have been living in Turkey for almost three years insist on going to a Greek island with cheap dinghies, risking a death by drowning in the Aegean, or walk for hours on the Istanbul-Edirne highway to reach an EU border?
Sociology Professor Sema Erder, who has written many books and conducted many studies on migration, urbanization and slums, brought up several questions on the mass escape of the Syrians.
Erder pointed out that Turkey’s foreign migration policies have been debated and criticized for years because of their strict rules and because they contain several problems in terms of migrant rights…
She has asked whether or not one of the reasons for the escape could be that even the slow-moving UNHCR bureaucratic management was prevented from getting involved in the crisis right from the get-go.
Could it be because of the “guest” policy that Syrians are subjected to gives them no legal right to work?
Is it because the newly issued immigrant “protection” policy does not work?
Could it be the ethnic policy Turkey applies to “guests” and which discriminates them by separating them into groups such as Kurdish, Yezidi and Sunni?
Isn’t it strange that the escape of Syrian immigrants from Turkey has been watched by local and international media organizations like a film, for months, and that these questions have been left unanswered?