syria refugees.jpg
Photograph: EPA/YOUSSEF BADAWI

Turkey passed a regulation on Friday granting Syrian refugees access to work permits, a move aimed at stemming migration flows to the European Union as part of a deal reached last year between the bloc and Ankara worth about 3 billion dollars.

Since the multi-sided Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, more than 2.5 million refugees from the neighbouring nation have registered in Turkey.

Hundreds of thousands have since pushed on to Europe, with many citing the lack of opportunities available to them in Turkey.

Under the new regulation, signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and published in the official government gazette, Syrians who have been registered in the country for at least six months will henceforth be legally allowed to work.

The number of Syrians allowed to be hired by Turkish employers is capped at 10 per cent of their workforce, though officials said some exceptions can be made.

The new work regulation was intended to reduce the incentive for migrants to embark on the journey to Europe, Turkish media quoted Turkey's EU Minister Volkan Bozkir as saying this week.

Syrian refugees often take dangerous boat journeys from Turkey's western coast to reach nearby Greek islands. More than 800,000 refugees and migrants travelled across the Aegean Sea from Turkey into Greece last year, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

Earlier this week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) welcomed the announcement of Syrian access to work permits in Turkey.

"This is a good step towards integration," the IOM wrote on its Twitter account.

In November, the EU and Turkey reached a deal in which the bloc pledged 3 billion euros (3.2 billion dollars) in aid if Ankara helped cut the flow of migrants.

Turkey has since show signs of cracking down on smugglers, but thousands of migrants are still reaching Europe, and EU officials have openly said they are not satisfied with Ankara's efforts to stem the influx.

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