With the migration agreement between the European Union and Turkey reaching the five-year mark, add an element of job creation


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It has been 10 years since the conflict in Syria began to displace Syrians from their homes to neighboring countries. Since then, their numbers have reached Turkey 3.7 million. In the absence of any permanent traditional solutions – in the form of voluntary return, resettlement, or local integration – the presence of Syrian refugees in Turkey has become Long, stretchedNo end in sight.

this is “Permanent reality“It calls for a rethink an agreement Between the European Union and Turkey that was adopted this week five years ago. Leaders must explore ways to move forward, with an emphasis on development as well as humanitarian assistance. One way to do this is by adopting political ideas from Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) To improve the prospects for formal employment of refugees and members of their host communities.

What did the convention do?

The 2016 agreement was adopted against the background of more than a million refugees, most of them Syrians. flow In the European Union via Turkey.

This massive secondary movement rupture The very fabric of the European Union, which raises panic about the weakening of the Union. “Permanently and radically. “This generated the need to find an urgent arrangement with Turkey to stop or slow the flow of migrants. This panic coincided with the growing recognition in Turkey that the prospects for returning refugees to Syria were bleak, and that the cost of hosting refugees had become politically and economically difficult. By the end of 2015, more 2.5 million Syrian refugees were living in Turkey and Turkey Spend Nearly $ 8 billion to help them, with limited international support. Aside from the refugee issue, and for domestic political reasons, there was also a drive on the Turkish side to use the crisis to revive the sluggish accession process to the European Union and solve the lingering issue of visa liberalization.

In this context, both sides had to negotiate first Joint EU-Turkey Action Plan In October 2015, then the 2016 agreement. Accordingly, Turkey will increase border security, and Greece is promised that “all new illegal immigrants” can be returned to Turkey. For every irregular migrant who returned from Greece, it was envisaged that one registered asylum seeker from Turkey would be resettled to the European Union. Most importantly, Turkey will receive two tranches worth 3 billion euros to support refugees. Finally, it was also planned to revitalize Turkey’s accession process to the European Union by opening a new chapter, and the visa liberalization program for Turkish citizens will be pursued.

The nature of the deal’s dealings was met with severe criticism. Some described it asA dirty dealAnd another sarcastic, comparing it to …The horse trade“At the expense of“ the rights and dignity of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. ”Both sides also complained about its implementation. European Union leaders were frustrated by the periodic threats made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “Open the borders” And let the refugees flock to Europe. Turkish language Found officials Funds are quite insufficient, and Complained About the slow disbursement. The Turkish side also did not miss an opportunity to criticize the European Union bitterly for its failure to liberalize visas for Turkish citizens and to reactivate Turkey’s accession process.

Deal evaluation

Perhaps above all, the 2016 ranking made it possible for the European Union – as a leading professor of international refugee law Argued To obtain a “space of refuge” outside the European Union. Illegal crossings across the Aegean Sea Projection Significantly from 885,000 in 2015 to about 42,000 in 2017. Turkey remainedA good fenceUntil February 2020, Erdoan launched a major The humanitarian crisis On the border with Greece, he finally activated his long-standing threat to send millions of refugees onto the European Union route. However, once in Greece hanging Asylum procedures and the power to prevent migrants from crossing into Greece crisis He came to an abrupt endJust as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the Turkish government to close its borders. During the short period that you opened the window, Relatively few Syrians In fact, he took the opportunity to try to leave Turkey. Many refugees feel integrated despite the instability in their lives there: Survey 2019 It showed that approximately 89% of Syrians feel “fully / almost completely” and “partially” integrated with the host community.

The part of the deal that directly relates to refugees and their well-being on the ground is the refugee facility in Turkey (Free). As of December 2020, this fund totaled € 6 billion Committed, contracted, and disbursed € 3.9 billion. Although this is much less than the $ 40 billion that Erdogan claimed – In a letter Ahead of the Global Refugee Forum in December 2019 – which Turkey spent, it supports a wealthy group of Programs And the Projects. They range from cash assistance to the most vulnerable refugees to help them meet their basic needs, to those aimed at improving refugees’ access to public health services and integrating refugee children into the Turkish national education system. These programs have increasingly been coupled with programs aimed at improving social cohesion between refugees and their host communities, as well as expanding access to livelihood opportunities. The implementation of FRIT has also created a poorly recognized but impressively constructive public space for cooperation between European entities (Member States, European Commission, European NGOs) and international agencies on the one hand, and Turkish stakeholders (government agencies, municipalities, civil society) Local) on the other hand. Although parts of the deal are well-deservedly criticized, the FRET system has been successful and the European Union should build on that success.

Although parts of the deal were deservedly criticized, the FRET system was a success and the European Union should build on that success.

What’s Next?

Moving forward, the prospects for returning refugees to their homes in Syria in large numbers are in line with: Principles of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Look far away. Nor does the picture of resettlement of Syrian refugees look very promising. The I expected the commission There will be more than 420,000 resettlement places required for Turkey in 2021. As of the end of November 2020, Commission stated That there were only 3,867 refugees left from Turkey, compared to 10,286 Last November. Local integration has also not occurred, in the form of granting Syrian refugees a pathway to eventually obtain citizenship in Turkey. Granting citizenship to me refugees It is a very sensitive issue, with 87% of Faith of the Turkish public Syrians “should not be given any political rights,” and 76.5% are against granting citizenship. Not surprisingly, according to the only number available to the public, he was only there 110,000 Granting Turkish citizenship to Syrians by the end of 2019.

Against this background, access to decent and sustainable livelihoods becomes critical for refugees, and is the missing piece today. There are two structural problems standing in the way. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), there is a very large proportion of the nearly one million working-age Syrian refugees working in The informal sector. This image not only leaves Syrians in precarious working and social conditions, but also exacerbates public discontent caused by low wages and high unemployment rates. Second, the Turkish economy is much weaker than it was when refugees started arriving. according to World BankTurkey’s GDP per capita has decreased from its peak in 2013 (12,614 USD) to 9,126 USD in 2019, the most recent year available.

The problem of persistent unemployment is now exacerbated Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The epidemic is also affecting the lives of refugees in Diverse and profound ways, Including their access to income and their prospects for livelihood opportunities. The Turkish Red Crescent, together with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Found That 69% of refugees surveyed lost their jobs during the pandemic.

what should be done?

All funds earmarked for the FRIT program have been committed. In July 2020, the Authorized by the European Parliament Almost half a billion additional euros, and in December the European Council promise “To continue providing financial assistance to Syrian refugees and host communities in Turkey.” However, this promise has yet to be negotiated internally in the European Union and with Turkey. Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen – after her meeting with Erdogan to end the border crisis last March – She expressed Prepare to explore and improve the “missing elements” of the EU-Turkey agreement from 2016. Job creation will be one of these missing elements.

One way to do this is to create a demand for refugee labor. The Global Compact for Refugees proposes to explore “preferential trade arrangements … especially for goods and sectors with high refugee participation” to stimulate employment for both refugees and local residents to help with social cohesion. This suggestion is fully consistent with trade Editing By reducing tariffs, expanding or even eliminating the quota system entirely, and removing regulatory hurdles, all of which are key factors for economic growth and employment. This economic growth will also help create demand for refugees’ skills and work and complements ongoing efforts focused on increasing their employability. In the case of Turkey specifically, the European Commission already had it Reported gains Accessing “export markets … and providing preferential export and trade status for specific products” as a “priority measure” to improve the self-reliance of Syrian refugees in Turkey. One specific way to implement this policy idea is for the European Union to grant concessions that would enable Turkey to do so Expanding its agricultural exports To the European Union. These concessions will be related to the official employment of Syrian refugees in a manner that meets the labor standards of the International Labor Organization and the European Union.

Win-win for everyone

Using trade facilitation to add a job creation component to the EU-Turkey arrangement would be beneficial to all. For Turkey, this would enable refugees to stand on their own feet, become productive members of Turkish society, defuse growing public discontent, reduce the likelihood of committing crime due to economic despair, and at the same time unleash some economic growth. Work is considered as Effective tool Integration of refugees, and integration would reduce the possibility of refugees moving to the European Union, which would benefit it. Most importantly, refugees will benefit through their ability to replace the precariousness of informal work with the dignity that comes with self-reliance on the basis of sustainable employment. Finally, this will be tangible evidence that burden-sharing – in line with the letter and spirit of the Geneva International Charter and the 1951 Geneva Convention, as it approaches its 70th anniversary – is still alive.


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