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Industry urged to do more to protect refugees

The fashion industry needs to go further to prevent the exploitation of Syrian refugees in Turkish supply chains, a report from the British and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) has found.

Fashion brands are taking steps to tackle the issue, but the industry as a whole still needs to do more, according to the BHRRC. New Look, Next, Asos, Supergroup and Inditex emerged as the top-ranking brands in the survey of almost 40 European companies.

This is significant improvement on last year, when only Next and New Look were judged to be taking sufficient action against exploitation.

Companies at the top of the BHRCC rankings are better at identifying risks of abuse in their supply chains, have targeted plans to protect refugee workers and have mechanisms in place to deal with complaints.

However, Aldi, the Arcadia Group and Asda were among the retailers who provided minimal information on the steps taken to prevent the exploitation of refugees and River Island and the VF Corporation did not respond.

Phil Bloomer, executive director of the BHRRC, said: “Work in Turkish garment factories provides a valuable lifeline for vulnerable refugees from Syria, but it also exposes them to unacceptable risks of discrimination and abuse.

“The best practice highlighted in this report needs to become the minimum standard across Europe. If they could work on decent terms in the garment industry, refugees in Turkey and beyond would have a chance at a better life.

”We welcome the advances by leading companies, but Europe’s fashion brands need to ensure the price paid for the clothes on the high street ensures a living wage for vulnerable refugees and their fellow Turkish workers.”

Around 650,000 refugees are thought to be working in Turkey and the garment industry is a key source of employment.

An undercover investigation by BBC’s Panorama in October last year found refugee children working in Turkish factories making clothes sold in the UK.



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