The Slatest

Turkey Says It Will Begin Issuing Syrian Refugees Work Permits to Reduce Flow to Europe

A recently arrived migrant rests out of exhaustion as he heads towards a reception center after arriving from Turkey onto the island of Lesbos on Oct. 16, 2015.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Turkey will begin issuing work permits to Syrian refugees to try to reduce the flow of migrants using the country as a conduit to Europe, the Turkish government said Monday. Over the last five years Turkey has shouldered far and away the largest number of refugees fleeing Syria, more than two million, but has been reluctant to offer them work opportunities, other than in refugee camps on the border. Some 7,300 work permits have been issued, according to the government.

Domestic unemployment has been a concern as Turkey’s economy has softened and its currency slumped, but the European Union has increased pressure on Ankara to do more to stop the wave of migration, particularly into neighboring Greece, which has continued unabated, according to EU officials. Here’s more from Reuters:

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said the “draft” regulation has been adopted by the council of ministers and will be published in the coming days. Employers will be able have Syrians comprise up to 10 percent of their staff, although this condition may be waived by provincial governors in certain cases… Kurtulmus said under new legislation, refugees will be able to apply for a work permit specific to their place of registration six months after they register there.

In November, European leaders pledged more than $3 billion to Ankara in return for help diffusing the impact of the mass Syrian migration; more than one million Syrian refugees arrived in Europe in 2015 alone.