World, Middle East

Istanbul panel discusses Syrian refugee role in economy

Panel part of 2-day program on economic inclusion of refugees in host communities

Meryem Göktaş   | 12.09.2019
Istanbul panel discusses Syrian refugee role in economy


A panel discussion was held in Istanbul on Thursday to discuss the economic contribution of Syrian refugees in their host communities. 

The panel titled "Contribution of Syrian refugees to regional economies" was part of a two-day conference on economic inclusion and livelihood development of young refugees.

Speaking about the main obstacles Syrians are facing in entering the labor market in Turkey, the panel agreed on language barrier and the lack of knowledge on legal issues.

Ertugrul Cetinkaya, representing the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Organization of Turkey (KOSGEB), said that Syrians under temporary protection can enjoy entrepreneurship support, adding they are working on integrating them into the Turkish labor market.

Samar Dani, CEO of the Lebanese non-profit organization Injaz, also emphasized the importance of entrepreneur skills, stating that as an entrepreneur it is important to do partnerships and collaborations to create job opportunities.

Speaking about Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Dani said that there is no language barrier but an unemployment and legal barrier in entering the labor market.

Farooq Burney, executive director of Al Fakhoora, an international education campaign, said through economic inclusion of refugees the society benefits as a whole.

Kemal Kirisci of Brookings Institute said that there are still issues which need to be considered such as the large number of Syrians employed in the agriculture sector as seasonal workers.

Kirisci said that despite any differences there is still a common willingness between Turkey and the EU to address the livelihood development of Syrian refugees.

Khalid Babli, chairman of Syrian Businessmen and Entrepreneurs Association (SIAD), said that Turkey is supporting Syrian refugees in building businesses.

The two-day conference has gathered 150 participants from the Middle East and North Africa regions including policymakers, aid group representatives and academics.

The conference -- which will continue until Friday -- is being held in partnership between non-profit organization Spark and Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) with the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD) and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs as sponsors.

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