AYS Daily News 25/10: A lost generation: Syrian refugee children forced into sweatshops in Turkey

From refugees to child labourers: The fate of children in conflict zones. What about children’s education? They are future adults who need skills, knowledge and a sense of belonging to a community! Calais eviction: Day 2. Refugees, but also internally displaced: What happens when one cannot leave Syria? An increase in arrivals to Greece, a record number of arrivals to Italy. Let’s not be Gorino, let’s be Napoli! UN report: No evidence migration causes terror attacks, but anti-migration laws do, indeed.

Credits: Elizabeta Jačov


TOP High Street chains like Next and Marks and Spencer are using Syrian refugee children to make their clothes in Turkish sweatshops

Hundreds of thousands Syrian refugees are working in Turkish apparel factories (and numbers continue to rise). Most of them do not have the right to work, and therefore are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Women make up the majority of the textile workforce and are therefore particularly at risk as are children who are also being used in large numbers.

These children work long hours for little pay, often exposed to hazardous chemicals that are sprayed to bleach the jeans, yet do not have face masks to protect them. The refugees work in such harsh conditions and often make just over $1.25 per hour, in violation of Turkish minimum wage laws.

“If anything happens to a Syrian, they will throw him away like a piece of cloth,” one refugee told reporters from the BBC program “Panorama: “Undercover: The Refugees Who Make Our Clothes.”

The accused brands, which include Marks and Spenser, ZARA, Asos, and few others, said they do not tolerate the exploitation of children in their supply chains. Marks & Spencer said it inspected and did not find any child refugees. Yet the BBC said it found seven Syrians working in one of the main factories supplying Marks & Spencer.

ASOS inspected and found 11 Syrian adults and three Syrian children under age 16 working on clothing in a factory it uses. In a factory in Istanbul, the BBC’s Panorama found adult Syrian refugees working alongside Turkish children as young as 10.

Refugees have often been subjected to other extreme forms of exploitation as well. Traffickers have taken advantage of their desperation by even selling Syrian refugees’ organs for large sums of money. A black market for refugees’ organs has long flourished in the Middle East. Lebanese smugglers told Der Spiegel in 2013 that because of the enormous refugee crisis there are “more sellers than buyers.”

Gordon Brown, the former British prime minister and current UN Special Envoy for Global Education, argues that: “Displaced children are more likely to become the youngest labourers in the factory, the youngest brides at the altar, and the youngest soldiers in the trench.”

Above all, a catastrophic by-product of ongoing conflicts in the Middle East is a lost generation of unschooled children. These children find themselves, through no fault of their own, not only displaced but lacking the opportunity for proper schooling and thus, denied a chance to learn and develop the necessary skills to become fully functional members of society. This lost generation is the tragedy of our time.

According to a 2015 report by UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency, conflict in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has driven 13 million children out of schools.

Unschooled children are not only a moral challenge, but also one that has negative short-term and long-term consequences both for the refugees, but also for their societies. Humanitarian efforts tend to focus on physical needs such as food and shelter, but there is less emphasis on dealing with the long-term effects of the lack of structure and opportunities for children.

With each passing year, the lost generation keeps growing. We need to act now, and thus we wanted to show our work with refugee children in Croatia. Some of them started school and speak Croatian very nicely. Our volunteers help them with homework every day, and the most beautiful of all is, perhaps, hearing their stories of friendships they have made at school.

Credits: Elizabeta Jačov
Credits: Elizabeta Jačov
Credits: Elizabeta Jačov
Credits: Elizabeta Jačov
Credits: Elizabeta Jačov


Summary of Day 2 of Jungle eviction

Credits: Refugee Info Bus
  • More adults were registered and transported on coaches to CAOs (Accomodation Centres) around France. Later in the afternoon, no queues remained for adult registration.
  • Registration for children was stopped during the afternoon, with minors not yet registered told to return tomorrow. Entry to the queue for children’s registration was allowed on the basis of a two-second visual age check by French authorities.
  • Women from multiple countries staged a protest appealing to the UK to consider their situation and provide a safe place for displaced women.
  • A small team contracted by French authorities began dismantling structures and shelters at 3:05pm, by hand and with two small diggers. We expect this will continue tomorrow.
  • There was a large police presence in camp throughout the day, with a water cannon brought in during the afternoon, but we have not witnessed any major confrontations between police and residents.
  • Few isolated scuffles broke out
  • Sudanese people in the camp have accused the authorities of prioritising children from other countries over children from Sudan. As one Sudanese refugee states: “The Sudanese form 45% of the camp. We are the majority and we are not being processed. Yesterday we had a meeting with the prefecture and he said maybe 2pm,”
  • Britain has pledged up to £36 million to maintain border controls across the channel in Calais and to ensure France’s Jungle migrant camp remains closed following its demolition this week
  • Almost 40 councils in England are refusing to accept any of the roughly 1,000 child refugees evacuated from the Calais
  • MSF is leaving Calais to denounce the manner in which minors are selected. Franck Esnée (MSF) says that “A young woman of France Terre d’Asile has turned away around one third of all people” [in the queue for the temporary reception centres for kids] without asking them any questions and, thus, making it impossible to find out if they were adults or not”

Our main concerns today are around the registration of minors, many of whom will have to spend another night in the Jungle, risking violence, fires and other dangers. We are also much more concerned about later in the week, when the only ones remaining are those who do not want to leave, who still want to reach England, which could bring about strong conflicts between refugees and the police.

Credits: Refugee Info Bus
Credits: Refugee Info Bus

If you wonder where exactly in France are Calais migrants being sent, here is a list

  • Brittany: 30 centres, fewer than 1,000 beds.
  • Normandy, 25: centres, fewer than 1,000 beds.
  • Hauts de France, 29 centres, more than 1,000 beds.
  • Grand-Est: 64 centres, more than 1,000 beds.
  • Pays-de-la-Loire: 36 centres, fewer than 1,000 beds.
  • Centre-Val-de-Loire: 29 centres, fewer than 1,000 beds.
  • Bourgogne-France-Compté: 31 centres, fewer than 1,000 beds.
  • Nouvelle-Aquitaine: 59 centres, more than 1,000 beds.
  • Auverne-Rhone-Alps: 47 centres, more than 1,000 beds.
  • Occitane: 71 centres, more than 1,000 beds.
  • Provence-Alpes-Cote-D’Azur: 29 centres, fewer than 1,000 beds.

The Interior Ministry noted that 60 percent of these centres had space for fewer than 20 migrants, and only three of them can house more than 50 people. We fear the centres being overcrowded, or refugees being left to the mercy of streets.


The borders of Syria are more or less closed or very difficult to cross

“This means that displacement inside Syria will grow and grow. We estimate 6.57 million people are not in their homes any more, and this number I’m sure is destined to become bigger if hostilities do not cease,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told a news conference in the Jordanian capital Amman.

Since the start of the conflict in 2011, to date more than 6.5 million people have been displaced inside Syria, while some 4.8 million have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.


Volunteers urgently needed in Samos

Volunteer teams in Samos have been dealing with the biggest amount of arrivals of the month. They have partial access to a camp “designed” for 750, hosting now over 2000. Backup is urgently needed in all spectrum of aid. Teachers, sorters, distribution staff — please consider it and apply here.

Thessaloniki breakfasts

Because we all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day! If you would like to help the organisation with their breakfast mission, please donate some meals at: www.foodKIND.org.

Credits: foodKIND
Credits: foodKIND
Credits: foodKIND
Credits: foodKIND
Credits: foodKIND
Credits: foodKIND

‘Have they forgotten we exist?’

Migrants on Monday attacked the premises of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) inside the Moria hot spot on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, completely destroying four container office units and damaging another two during a protest that was contained by riot police.

For refugees and migrants stranded in Greece, days have stretched into months since the pathways they hoped would lead to Europe were cut off in March. Currently, about 60,600 refugees remain in Greece without a clear way forward


  • Lesvos 20
  • Chios 5
  • Samos 82


Fire at Sea: The Incredible documentary about the refugee crisis on the Mediterranean

Fire at Sea documents the present state of the refugee crisis in Lampedusa, an Italian island that has become a landing place for refugees departing from the North African coast.

To make his film, director Gianfranco Rosi followed aid workers onto migrant ships and entered detention camps with the migrants themselves, but he also made a record of Lampedusa itself — its customs, its citizenry, its culture. As a result, the movie records the two-way street of cultural preservation that has made the issue of resettling the stateless so contentious in Europe.

Shameful protest of Gorino locals

The plan for the town of Gorino (province of Ferrara) was to receive a bus carrying 12 women (including a 8-month pregnant one) and 8 children. Having known of this decision yesterday, around 300 people — basically half the population of the small town — went down the streets. From day to night, the protesters blocked with cars and small vans parked in diagonal the only road leading to the receiving structure designated by the prefecture. Carbineers and Digos (police intervention unit) reached the place. The inhabitants stated they do not want to receive the refugees, mentioning the unsolved problems of these people’s maintenance, and the damage to tourism. By midnight, the refugees’ bus diverted its route taking the twenty refugees elsewhere.

Replying to the events in Gorino, Napoli locals said, “Welcome refugees. Napoli is your home”

Last Sunday, Napoli received 465 refugees, about 100 of whom were unaccompanied children. Few hours later, Naples Municipality launched a call for clothes and food; after two days, they messaged to stop clothes’ collection, due to the overdonation, and they are shifting the ones in excess to the homeless receiving centre. Great job, Napoli!

2,200 refugees saved from drowning in the Mediterranean on Monday

The Italian Coast Guard announced Monday they saved more than 2,000 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea over the course of multiple missions during the day. They also recovered dozens of bodies.

The rescues follow weekend operations in which 17 bodies, including those of four children, were recovered and some 4,000 people were pulled to safety.

Italy expects more migrants than ever before in 2016

The interior ministry, which only counts those who have been registered, said the latest arrivals lifted to more than 153,000 the total number of refugees who have arrived in Italy since the start of this year. That equals 2015’s full-year tally.


Locals protest in solidarity with a to-be-deported Iraqi family

A group of people from the municipality of Kumberg in Styria have asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for help in trying to stop the deportation of an Iraqi refugee family.

The deadline for the family of four to leave Austria was on Monday 24th October, but they stayed. The community says they are very well integrated and it’s not right that they should have to move to Croatia, which is the first European country where they were registered.


Canada to welcome Yazidi refugees within months

Immigration Minister John McCallum says the Liberal government is prepared to start bringing Yazidi refugees into the country within four months.

He says the Liberals will support a Conservative motion calling for more support for the Yazidis, who have been singled out for particularly brutal treatment by so-called Islamic State militants. The Yazidis are a Kurdish-speaking religious minority who used to dwell mainly in northern Iraq.


Fresno, California to become the prime resettlement spot for Syrian refugees

The IRC also said if a settlement site is approved in Fresno, it would eventually allow them to bring people directly to Fresno and it would be their first place of residence in the United States.

Ferguson said Fresno works well because there is already an Arab-American community, and Fresno is home to many refugees from other parts of the world. Over the next three months, the IRC plans to coordinate with local organizations and city leaders so that no one is surprised when they ask the Department of State for funding.


UN report finds no evidence migration causes terror attacks and warns anti-refugee laws could worsen risk

Report warns that forcing refugees on covert routes could ultimately damage state security. Read it here.

Daily news digests from the field, mainly for volunteers and refugees on the route, but also for journalists and other parties.

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