Poverty in Turkey reaches unprecedented levels due to pandemic - report

The number of impoverished Turks could double this year to nearly 20 million, and set back by two decades progress in narrowing inequality, Reuters said on Thursday, citing a study by Turkish economists.

About four million Turks rely on state aids to make their livings although a two-month lockdown to curb the effects of the coronavirus ended in June meanwhile the number of the poor is predicted to reach 20 million, Reuters said, citing a study by Turkish economists Ayşe Aylin Bayar, Öner Günçavdı and Haluk Levent.

Turkish citizens and business owners, speaking to Reuters, paint a grim picture of the Turkish economy, a record 1.4 million were too discouraged to search for work, up nearly threefold from a year ago.

Turkish government's economy management, which is handled by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's son-in-law Berat Albayrak, has been under increasing criticism. Unorthodox economic management has been coupled with a badly managed pandemic response and now Turkish opposition once again calls on the government to consider bringing back the curfew to prevent the deadly virus from spreading further. 

An owner of a women’s clothing shop in Istanbul tells Reuters that a return to lockdown was her worst nightmare like many others.

Erdoğan’s government is expected to lift a temporary ban on layoffs, possibly as soon as November.

Thursday's figures show the country's unemployment rate climbed to 13.4 percent in the three months to July even after the government barred companies from firing workers.

One of the authors of the study, Günçavdı, however, believes nothing will change even if Erdoğan does not lift the ban of layoffs because they are "unsustainable" policies.

“When they are removed, there is potential for upheaval with mass layoffs, a spike in destitution, family structures being tested and potential demonizing of minorities and refugees," he said.

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