“Every day we work from morning till night, but still we cannot buy a can of oil.”
This sentence summarises the situation of seasonal workers in Turkey, who are mostly Syrian refugees and Kurdish people from Diyarbakir, Urfa, and Sirnak. Every year they come to the Cukurova district of Adana to make money. They work from early morning till night and earn 65 TL (almost $8) for the seven sacks of onions they fill. Seven liras (one dollar) of this money goes to their chiefs. They work with their children for 12 hours but have a daily break of only one hour.
People in Turkey have been suffering from an economic crisis that has only deepened during the coronavirus pandemic. Reports reveal that citizens are not even able to afford their basic needs, such as food and water, due to high bills.
A Kurdish seasonal worker explained to the Mesopotamia News Agency: “When I finish working here, I go back to the tents to cook. My children are miserable. Sometimes we do not have any food. It is really hard to work in fields.”
No support from the government
City-dwellers are also suffering from poverty. Remziye Yel (59) lives with her four children in the Baglar district of Diyarbakir.
She trying to make a living with 600 TL ($72) she earns by cleaning stairs. She pays 250 TL ($30) for rent and once her electricity and water bills are paid she doesn’t have any money left. She divorced her husband after 34 years of marriage and does not get any support from the government or anyone else.
“The ministry is claiming that there are no poor people in Turkey. Let them come and see me,” she said.