Young Syrian refugees from Kobane and Aleppo live in a roadside container camp to work as day labourers in agriculture in Kirikhan, South Turkey (2016)
An estimated 60-80 per cent of Syrian refugee children in Turkey do not attend school and instead work as child labourers, including in mobile seasonal work in agriculture.
Turkey hosts more than 2.7 million Syrians displaced by the ongoing war, half of whom are children, but its refugee camps at the Syrian border can only house around 200,000 people. Based on the assumption that the conflict would end soon, Syrians were called “guests” – people under temporary protection but without the right to apply for asylum.
The Syrians legally reside in Turkey, but most do not receive government assistance and are struggling to survive. Out of all people that took refuge in Turkey, only around 7,500 have received work permits, while the rest are employed illegally as cheap labourers.
International law obliges Turkey to ensure education rights to the Syrian children who are under its protection. However, few young refugees benefit from their right to education at Turkish schools.
Landowners have put up unofficial container camps to accommodate Syrian refugees, which then work for them as illegal labourers. Their work is organised by a so-called Çavuş, a middleman who will take 10 percent of their earnings as a brokering fee, but also as their insurance, should the landowner decide not to pay. They are in a position of extreme dependence.
The Syrians I portrayed work on the landowner‘s fields, picking carrots or potatoes for a pittance. Adolescents work as hard as their parents; for a 10-12 hour shift they receive around 15 TL. None of the kids can go to school; most have been out of schooling for years now.
THE GUESTS Young Syrian refugees from Kobane and Aleppo live in a roadside container camp to work as day labourers in agriculture in Kirikhan, South Turkey (2016) An estimated 60-80 per cent of Syrian refugee children in Turkey do not attend s...