Turkey’s faltering economy hits charity for refugees - report
Turkey’s faltering economy has seen a steep decline in charitable donations for Turkey’s near 4 million refugee population, Voice of America reported on Wednesday.
The Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which began on April 12, traditionally includes an increase in goodwill towards the less fortunate.
However, donations are down as much as 90 percent from last year, leaving charities struggling to provide for refugees, VoA said.
“Last year, businesspeople were sending extra support for refugees because of the pandemic,” aid worker Aya Sultan told the news outlet. “But this year, when we called the same people, they said they had a terrible year economically.”
The Turkish economy has been plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic and a steep decline in the value of the lira in recent months. Unemployment grew by a quarter of a million people in February alone, reaching 13.4 percent of the workforce. While consumer price inflation climbed to 16.2 percent in March, making basic household goods increasingly unaffordable for many.
Meanwhile, refugees are struggling to secure work in Turkey, as alternatives like making the illicit journey to Europe become more difficult, VoA said.
Syrian refugee Mohammed al-Awas told VoA he had walked for 14 days in an attempt to cross the Greek border before being turned back by police.
“I spent a lot of money to go but then I was forced to come back, broke,” he said. “There is no work here, nothing to do. It is terrible.”
Under a 2016 deal, the European Union pledged financial support for the near 4 million Syrian refugees in Turkey in return for Ankara taking steps to stop them from travelling onto Europe.
Humanitarian organisations have criticised the deal, which they say has left thousands of vulnerable people in legal limbo.
Over a year ago, when much of the world shuttered as the pandemic swept the globe, Mohammed al-Awas, 46, a Syrian refugee, was stranded with his wife and five children at a gas station in Turkey. Not far from the Greek border, some families were sheltered nearby in an area usually reserved for fixing cars, their personal belongings in black garbage bags piled up along the walls. Dozens of men, women and children, mostly refugees from Syria, loitered outside the station, not sure where to go next. Like the others, al-Awas wanted to cross the river to Greece.