03/29/2023, 13.07
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Ilo: Quakes' devastating impact on Turkish and Syrian labour market

For experts without 'urgent and dedicated' support there is a danger of further poverty, undeclared employment and child exploitation. In Turkey more than 658,000 workers without a livelihood, 150,000 workplaces damaged and unusable. In neighbouring Syria, 725,000 people suffered earthquake-related damage; about 23% of those who lost their jobs are women.

Damascus (AsiaNews) - The 6 February earthquake in Turkey and Syria has had a devastating impact not only in terms of human lives with the more than 57,000 victims, but has also brought hundreds of thousands of businesses and workers to their knees, who now find themselves unemployed and without prospects for recovery.

Without 'urgent and dedicated' support, International Labour Organisation (ILO) experts explain in a study that correlates the earthquake and the impact on the labour market, 'poverty, undeclared [employment] and child labour are likely to increase'.

“Employment promotion is central to a successful and inclusive response to this disaster,” said ILO Director-General, Gilbert F. Houngbo. “People can only begin to rebuild their lives if they have rebuilt their livelihoods. We owe it to those who have lost so much in the earthquake to ensure that the principles of social justice and decent work are firmly embedded in the recovery and reconstruction process.” 

Initial estimates from Turkey suggest that the earthquake has left more than 658,000 workers without any source of livelihood and that more than 150,000 workplaces have suffered devastating damage that has rendered them unusable.

The Ilo warns that these workers face average income losses of just under 230 euro per month for as long as the disruption continues. Overall, it is likely that the crisis has also reduced the income from working from home by a total of around EUR 150 million per month in the affected areas.

The affected provinces in Turkey are home to more than four million workers, most of them active in agriculture, manufacturing, trade or other low-value services. In Malatya, over 58.8 per cent of working hours are estimated to have been lost; in Adıyaman the figure is 48.1 per cent and in Hatay the figure is just over 45.2 per cent. In addition to job losses, the Ilo's assessment of Turkey warns of increased occupational health and safety risks, as well as the danger of child exploitation. 

In Syria, where 12 years of civil war have caused severe repercussions for the economy and the employment market, an initial estimate reports about 170,000 workers reportedly lost their jobs due to the earthquake.

About 154,000, the Ilo experts continue, are the families directly affected, amounting to over 725,000 people; to these are added 35,000 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This 'temporary' unemployment has led to a total loss of income from work of almost 5.7 million euro per month.

The five most affected Syrian governorates - Aleppo, Hama, Idlib, Lattakia and Tartous - were home to around 42.4 per cent of the country's total population, a figure that includes around 7.1 million people of working age (16 years or over), of whom 2.7 million were employed (formally or informally). Of the total, 22.8 per cent were women. 

Hence the study of Ilo policies, in cooperation with the local governments of Syria and Turkey, to support the labour market and revitalise enterprises. These include emergency programmes for companies to ensure employment and continuity of production, dedicated initiatives for seasonal farmers, child labour slaves or refugees, and support for reconstruction activities.

Finally, in Syria, subsidies are provided to social partners to help relaunch businesses and workers, as well as to improve safety and health practices in the workplace.

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