Turkey Helps Refugees from Syria Assimilate into Economy

Gaziantep is a city in southeastern Turkey that is the host for one of the largest refugee populations from Syria in Turkey.

The city has taken measures to facilitate the entry of the refugees into its formal economy, said the city mayor this week.

The city has more than 200,000 refugees and has prepared a special program to draw those Syrians living outside refugee camps into the labor market.

In April of 2011, the first refugees from Syrian started to cross the border into Turkey. As of this past June there were more than 700,000 refugees dispersed around Turkey, of which 70% live outside the different refugee camps.

Experts believe the refugee population could grow to 1 million before the end of 2014.

The camps give the refugees basic needs and provide essential services. Nevertheless, once the refugees are out of the camp, they need to pay for food and accommodation.

Those basic costs can only be met if they own savings or are employed.

One female refugee said that life in the camps we easy since they provide everything, but outside the camps you have to provide for everything including rent, food and other expenses. However, she said she preferred living outside the camp since she feels more in control.

She said the only easy way for a refugee from Syria to work in Turkey was if they spoke Turkish. This refugee said she spoke three languages, of which Turkish was one.

Until now, being able to obtain a permit to work as a refugee was a slow and very complicated process.

However, in April the Ministry of Labor in the Turkish Ministry put into place an expedited procedure for obtaining work permits for Turks.

The new plan prioritizes employment for Turkish citizens, but still an amount of refugees employed in the unregistered economy will be integrated into the system.

One other refugee said he used to own four jewelry stores in the city of Aleppo, prior to the civil war, but now can barely meet the needs of his one store in Turkey.

The war being battled in Syria might go on for a number of years, but refugees hope otherwise as they want to return home.

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