Turkish envoy criticizes BBC program on refugee labor

Abdurrahman Bilgic wrote to the editor of Panaroma following Monday’s broadcast of Undercover: Refugees Who Make Our Clothes, which claimed Syrian refugees and children were working illegally in poor conditions to make clothes for British retailers.

“Turkey strictly abides by international norms that relate to child labor,” he said. “Moreover Turkey has reformed its internal legislation accordingly.”

Since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, Turkey has pursued an open door policy towards Syrians, Bilgic said, adding that there are around 853,000 school-age children, 310,000 of who are eligible to receive education.

“Against this backdrop of Turkey's stance against child labor and efforts to help Syrian refugees with a particular emphasis on children, your television program displays Turkey as an unfriendly environment for child refugees,” he said.

“This regrettable approach risks not only undermining Turkey’s unprecedented assistance to refugees but also tarnishes the increasing trade relations between Turkey and the United Kingdom.”

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