Thursday, September 13

The Refugee Industry panics as Syrian reverse diaspora gears up

TASS reported yesterday that 242,295 Syrian refugees have returned from abroad since the Syrian government's refugee return campaign has gotten underway. In addition,1,230,342 internally displaced Syrians have returned home. 

There is more good news from the press briefing today by the head of the Russian National Defense Management Center,  General Mikhail Mizintsev, who is keeping a precise tally, but first his bad news:
Attempts are being made to discourage refugees residing in Syria’s neighboring states from returning to their home country, he added.

According to him, special questionnaires allegedly sponsored by a United Nations high commissioner are being used for that purpose.
"These questionnaires are aimed at raising doubts in the minds of Syrians who have decided to return home and make them eventually change their decision," the Russian general said.
"We do not rule out that these questionnaires are used by forces not linked to official United Nations agencies," he added.
Alexander Morozov, an academician with the International Academy of Psychological Sciences noted the questionnaire's list of questions prove that those compiling the questionnaires were not trying to remain impartial by using neutral words but sought to exert psychological pressure on refugees.
Now what forces would those be? Suspects would include every government intent on making a quagmire in Syria for the Russians and bringing down the Syrian government, so right there is a long list of suspects. But the prime suspect would be the very profitable refugee industry, which includes the Mafia:
In the past twelve months, Italian mafia groups have turned illegal migration into one of their main sources of income, according to a report released by Italy's Direzione Investigativa Antimafia (DIA), or the Anti-Mafia Investigation Directorate.
The Italian news network TG24 cited the report as saying that endorsing clandestine migration remains one of the most profitable criminal rackets. [...]
The refugee industry has also made windfall profits for Turkey's business sector and EU companies importing textiles and clothing from Turkey. From Frederik Johannisson's investigative report, "Hidden child labour: how Syrian refugees in Turkey are supplying Europe with fast fashion," published in January 2016 by the Guardian:
There are no figures on the informal Syrian labour force in Turkey but there are almost 2.3 million registered Syrian refugees living in the country, according to the UN, with about 9% of them in refugee camps. The rest have to provide for themselves with no financial support from the state.
An expert from the Centre for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies has suggested around 250,000 Syrian refugees are working illegally in the country, with a recent Human Rights Watch report claiming child labour is “rampant”.
Many reports of illegal working come from the garment sector, Turkey's second largest industry.
The country's giant textile industry is a major supplier to Europe but remains largely unregulated, an estimated 60% of the total workforce is unregistered, meaning they work informally, usually without a contract or any employment benefits. Syrian refugees make up a particularly vulnerable section of the workforce. Visiting Syrian workers in textile workshops in three Turkish cities – Istanbul, Mersin and Adana – I encountered child labour, poor working conditions and low pay.
Turkey’s policy until this month had been to treat Syrians as temporary guests, with no right to work, meaning refugees could only work illegally. The landscape is shifting, however. As part of a deal with the EU, the Turkish government last week announced new regulations that will allow any Syrian who has been in the country for six months to apply for a work permit.
Many European brands import from Turkey as it is close and known for the quality of the work. Turkey is the third largest supplier of clothing to Europe, after China and Bangladesh. In 2014, Europe imported €13.7bn (£10.4bn) worth of textiles and clothing from Turkey.
But a dive in those profits if Syrian workers return home would be small chips next to what the Germans stand to lose if the Syrian diaspora reverses. Low-skilled and often illiterate Syrians refugees aren't any use to German manufacturers but with training the refugees are just what they need:
Even as Germany’s economy has thrived in recent years, industry has warned of a looming Fachkräftemangel, or skilled worker shortage.
Without significant immigration, the working-age population will likely decrease from roughly 49 million in 2013 to somewhere between 34 and 38 million in 2060, according to a government estimate published in July.
The government’s efforts to lure highly-skilled foreigners have largely fallen short.
Faced with those pressures, finding ways to put the refugees to work quickly has become a top priority for Angela Merkel’s government.
“We have more than 1 million vacancies, we have a need for qualified personnel, and more than 50 percent of those who come to us are younger than 25,” Labor Minister Andrea Nahles said in a recent interview with German public television. “This could really work out.”
It could indeed work out; Syrian refugees have demonstrated in Turkey's cloth industry that they're hard workers. But imagine after the German government plugs a fortune into literacy and vocational education that the recipients turn around and say, 'Danke, jetzt kehren wir in unser Land zurück.'

There would be another suspect when it comes to fiddling with questionnaires: the United Nations itself, under pressure from the Usual Suspects to discourage Syrian refugees from returning to their country.   

But to return to the good news from Gen. Mizintsev's presser:
He pointed out that more countries were joining the efforts aimed at facilitating the return of Syrian refugees. In particular, Morocco’s authorities have expressed readiness to pay the travel expenses of those willing to return to their home country and provide the refugees with the financial assistance of $150 per person.
Mizintsev also said that Armenia had been providing assistance to Syria on a regular basis, planning to carry out another humanitarian mission in the province of Aleppo in the near future.
The general pointed to the ongoing work to reconstruct Syria’s infrastructure facilities. "Over the past week, 143 residential dwellings, two schools, two medical facilities, two kindergartens, two bakeries, seven water supply stations, three power substations, three motor bridges and 14 industrial facilities were rebuilt," Mizintsev said. The reconstruction of schools, pre-school facilities and other infrastructure facilities continues in 160 Syrian settlements.

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