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ILO calls for fresh support as job losses grip post-quake Türkiye and Syria

Child labour in Türkiye and Syria could increase following the February earthquake.
Child labour in Türkiye and Syria could increase following the February earthquake.

ILO calls for fresh support as job losses grip post-quake Türkiye and Syria

Humanitarian Aid

Urgent support is needed to prevent a slide into poverty and an increase in child labour and hand-to-mouth jobs, following the devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria in February, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said on Tuesday in new assessment reports.

Hundreds of thousands of workers in both countries have lost their livelihoods because of the earthquakes, preliminary findings showed in the new ILO assessments of the disaster’s impact on the labour market.

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“Employment promotion is central to a successful and inclusive response to this disaster,” said ILO Director-General Gilbert 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.”

Türkiye: monthly losses top $150 million

The earthquakes left more than 658,000 workers unable to earn their living, and more than 150,000 workplaces unusable, initial findings suggest.

In the face of steep income and job losses, ILO warned about increasing risks to occupational safety and health, as well as child labour.

Affected workers face average income losses of more than $230 per month each, for as long as the disruption continues. Overall, the crisis is likely to have reduced take-home pay by around $150 million per month in the affected areas, ILO reported.

Lost work hours have rippled across the affected area. Estimates show that in Malatya, 58.8 per cent of work hours are estimated to have been lost, with comparable figures of 48.1 per cent in Adıyaman and 45.2 per cent in Hatay.

The affected provinces in Türkiye are home to more than four million workers, most employed in agriculture, manufacturing, trade, or other “low-value-added” services.

Syria: Soaring ‘disemployment’

In Syria, where 12 years of civil war had already taken a huge toll on the economy and labour market, ILO estimated that about 170,000 workers have lost their jobs as a result of the earthquakes. This has directly affected around 154,000 households and more than 725,000 people.

Around 35,000 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises have also been affected. This temporary “disemployment” has led to total labour income losses equivalent to at least $5.7 million a month.

The five worst-affected districts – Aleppo, Hama, Idleb, Lattakia and Tartous – were home to an estimated 42.4 per cent of the country’s total population. This includes around 7.1 million people of working age of 16 and up, 22.8 per cent of whom are women.

Post-quake assistance

Immediately after the earthquakes struck, ILO set to work covering the emergency needs of workers and their families.

In Türkiye: ILO is already planning and implementing labour market and enterprise recovery strategies.

  • Emergency labour-based enterprise programmes include engaging businesses to enable them to offer decent and sustainable jobs.
  • ILO helps business organizations and trade unions to function and provide critical services to their memberships.
  • Dedicated initiatives will focus on seasonal agricultural workers, child workers and refugees.
  • Support will be provided to social partners to ensure that they can continue to engage in recovery and reconstruction initiatives as key actors of national social dialogue.

In Syria: New and continuing efforts are reaching populations in quake-affected areas.

  • A series of training campaigns for engineers is improving occupational safety and health practices.
  • Ongoing employment-intensive works reach affected neighbourhoods in Aleppo.
  • Grants support ILO’s social partners to help them reach affected workers and businesses, as well as improving occupational safety and health practices.