The International Pediatric Association (IPA) announced on March 11 that it would give the ‘International Peace Award’ to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for helping refugee children.
The award came after the IPA officials visited the refugee camps in Turkey. Announcing the IPA decision, Kerem Hasanoğlu, the head of the association’s external relations department, said that the association decided to award Erdoğan for his government’s role in the services regarding the refugee children.
“Turkey opened its gates and hosted over 1,5 millions of infants and children, did not let them die while many other countries remained insensitive to this issue. Under the lead of Mr Erdoğan, Turkey enabled those innocent infants and children to survive while many other countries ignored this situation,” Hasanoğlu said.
Stating that the IPA awarded Erdoğan with international peace prize for his contribution to the children’s right to life, Hasanoğlu thanked to Erdoğan in the name of the world’s biggest child health institution.
Founded in 1910, the IPA is a non-governmental organization with a membership of 145 national pediatric societies from 140 countries around the world.
REFUGEE CHILDREN IN TURKEY: LABOUR EXPLOITATION, NO ACCESS TO EDUCATION
Turkey is the world’s largest host of Syrian refugees, accepting millions of people who have fled the conflict since 2011. According to Turkey’s Interior Ministry Migration Directorate, the number of recorded Syrian refugees around the country is approximately 3,5 million, apart from those unrecorded ones, nearly 1,6 million of them is below the age of 18.
Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) played a direct role in the devastating attack targeting the Syrian government and Syrian people as an imperialist project led by the U.S., some other Western countries and the Gulf countries. Sharing a very long border with Syria, Turkey became one of the biggest terror hubs for the jihadist Islamist organizations that used the Turkish territory with an overt logistic, military and financial support from the AKP government.
As Erdoğan’s government has used the “open door” policy towards Syrian refugees as a populist political instrument, most of the refugees are employed, mostly unofficially, as a cheap labour force.
Research shows that in 2017 almost a half of the Syrian children had no access to education while thousands of them fell into the hands of illegal schools controlled by the Turkey-backed ‘Free Syrian Army’ and other jihadist groups.
Many other thousands of Syrian children under 18 are forced to work around Turkey. Some famous worldwide brands such as Zara, Mango and Marks&Spencer employ Syrian refugee children in their supply chains in Turkey.
A study in 2017 on the conditions of Syrian children in the southeastern city of Antakya, near the Syrian border, once again revealed the extent of child exploitation in Turkey. Half the children receive less than around $14 a week, the lowest earning around $6, while even the highest being only around $34.