Syrian refugees first to lose income in pandemic: UN

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on everyone, the most vulnerable members of society, including refugees, were among the first to lose their jobs and income, according to a UN representative in Turkey. 

"As refugees were overwhelmingly working informally before the pandemic, these are the first people that lost their jobs and income, without being eligible for short-time work allowance or other unemployment benefits,” Claudio Tomasi, representative of the UN Development Program, told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.

“A recent study from Kizilay [the Turkish Red Crescent] found that 69% of refugee households reported loss of employment because of COVID-19."

After the release this July of a UN report prepared with the Atlantic Council titled Turkey’s Refugee Resilience, Tomasi stressed that issues that were already making refugees' lives hard were exacerbated by the pandemic, and pointed to recommendations they made in the report for an inclusive recovery.

"First, we need to continue enhancing the skills of refugees so that they become employable options for large Turkish companies,” he explained.

“Second, integrated structural investments at the local level are needed, particularly in industrial, manufacturing, and agricultural value chains.

“Third, while the presence of refugees can be seen as an asset to catalyze local development, host communities need to be supported equitably as well.

“Last but not least, the formalization of existing jobs is paramount to ensuring decent work conditions for refugees, appropriate access to income, and fair competition between job seekers.”

He added: "The good news is that we do not need to start from scratch here. As the UNDP, we have worked tirelessly since the onset of the crisis with our UN, government, and private sector partners to put the necessary building blocks into place. With additional support, we would be able to quickly adapt and scale up our efforts to support the most vulnerable."

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