Turkey's Syrian refugees will not be granted special work permits, the labor minister said on Friday, explaining that such a program would be unfair to Turks seeking work.
Hosting close to two million refugees from Syria at a cost of more than $5 billion, Turkey has been praised internationally for its humanitarian response to the four-year conflict on its border. But with the vast majority of those fleeing war eking out a living outside well equipped refugee camps, the aid effort becomes more complicated.
Turkey meanwhile faces a stubborn unemployment rate of almost 10 percent and a slowing economy, and has repeatedly bemoaned Europe's reluctance to take its share of the refugee burden.
Currently those under temporary protection can work within the refugee community in Turkey, for example as doctors or teachers in camps, but Faruk Celik, Minister of Work and Social Security of Turkey, told Reuters there were no plans to grant work permits under a general program.
"There cannot be a general measure to provide them with work permits because we already have our workforce ... we are trying to educate and train our unemployed so they can get jobs in Turkey," he said.
"It would be unfair to take away their jobs and give them to refugees," Celik said, adding that other countries should help solve the refugee problem if the conflict persists.
The minister said the government is studying how best to deal with the problem of informal labor.
Business groups and unions have called on the government to formalize the arrangement so working Syrians pay taxes and are protected from exploitation.