UNDP announces initiative to bring vulnerable groups into labor force in Turkey’s quake-hit region 

A view from an agricultural field near Pazarcık, the epicenter of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake on Feb.6, 2023. AFP

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has announced a new $2.5 million initiative to fill up to 3,500 vacant positions in the textile industry and related sectors in southern Turkey, which was struck by devastating earthquakes in early February, while integrating women and other underserved groups into the labor market, Reliefweb reported

According to a press release from the UNDP Turkey Office, the new program, funded by Sweden with additional contributions from Korea and Finland, will address the acute labor shortages that have emerged with the outward migration of skilled workers from the earthquake-hit provinces.

“The earthquakes have stood our assumptions on their heads,” said UNDP Resident Representative in Turkey Louisa Vinton. “Now we see an entire region where industrial producers are growing desperate to find and retain employees. So the solution we aim to apply together with our private sector partners is to provide vocational training as widely as possible to bring women and other underrepresented groups into the workforce.”

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck near the Turkish city of Gaziantep – home to around 2 million people and on the border with Syria – as people were sleeping on February 6 was followed by dozens of aftershocks, including a 7.5-magnitude temblor that jolted the region in the middle of search and rescue efforts the same day.  

The new initiative was announced on Tuesday at a UNDP-convened meeting of textile producers in Istanbul.

In March the UNDP issued an appeal for $550 million for 31 projects aimed at restoring livelihoods, public services and cultural heritage in southern Turkey.

UN agencies have repeatedly called on the international community to increase its efforts to ensure aid keeps reaching the millions of people affected by the major earthquakes.

According to relief organizations, the impact of the earthquakes will be felt for months and years to come.

Around 2.7 million people remain internally displaced in the country. Shelter, water sanitation facilities, healthcare, protection (including mental health and psychosocial support) and continuity of learning remain priority needs, according to UNICEF Turkey.

The damage in Turkey alone could amount to over $100 billion, the UN said and launched a $1 billion funding appeal to support millions of people in Turkey.

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