The BBC’s discovery of Syrian children working for an M&S supplier points to need for major changes to auditing

Almost 3 million refugees have crossed into Turkey since the Syrian conflict erupted five years ago, the largest community of displaced Syrians in the world, according to the UN.

The majority are desperate for work at any cost. Holding no official documents or legal work permits, refugees, many of them children, are often exploited with no recourse to legal protection.

Turkey’s clothing and textiles industry accounts for around 7% of GDP, making it the world’s third-largest exporter of clothing, after China and Bangladesh. When investigative BBC programme Panorama recently went undercover in Turkey’s garment industry it found Syrian refugees working for pitiful wages and in terrible conditions, making clothes destined for UK high street brands including Marks and Spencer (M&S), Zara, Mango and online retailer Asos.

Many refugees are desperate to find work at any cost
Image Credit: Procyk Radek

The brands said they had no evidence of Syrian refugees in their supply chains, But Panorama found seven in one of M&S’s main factories, the youngest 15 years old, working 12-hour days and earning little over £1 an hour. And while Asos accepted its clothes were made in a number of facilities...

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Nadine Hawa  Marks and Spencer  refugees  garment trade  GDP  UN  BHRRC  Human rights  ETI  BBC 

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