Child worker dies in elevator accident in southern Turkey

A child worker aged 12 died in an elevator accident while working in a textile workshop in southern Turkey’s Adana province, on the eve of World Day Against Child Labor. İSİG reports that at least 695 child workers died in Turkey in the last 11 years. 

Duvar English

12-year-old child worker Ahmet Avan on June 11 died in an elevator accident at the textile workshop he worked in the southern province of Adana. 

According to initial reports, Syrian national Ahmet Avan got stuck between an elevator cabin and a wall. Workers claimed the elevator had been malfunctioning for some time but was still in use, according to reporting by the daily Evrensel. 

Most workers, shocked by the incident, claimed not to know the problem. One worker said, "The elevator was unreliable and had been broken for a while. Human life is very cheap."

The child's body was taken to the Adana Forensic Medicine Institute morgue for an autopsy.

As poverty deepens nationwide, child labor is increasing, and children are being pulled away from education. Child labor rose to 22.1 percent in 2023, parallel with the rise in child worker deaths.

Turkey also continues to see an unstoppable rise in the number of child laborers from its migrant population. Particularly in unregulated workshops, child workers are employed without insurance or security.

The Assembly for Worker Health and Safety (İSİG) highlighted at least 695 child labor deaths over the past 11 years in its “Report on Child Worker Fatalities,” published ahead of World Day Against Child Labor on June 12. 

The report emphasized that children, who should be reading, playing, exploring, and developing mentally and physically in a healthy and safe environment, are rapidly being turned into laborers amid deepening poverty.

According to the İSİG Assembly's report, 60 to 70 child workers die in workplace accidents each year. The report also noted that thousands of injuries, limb losses, and impacts on mental and physical development are not reflected in the data.

The İSİG report notes the yearly number of child worker deaths in Turkey between 2013 and 2024

The report highlighted that seven children died while working under the state-run vocational training program (MESEM) during the 2023-2024 school year. The report critiqued the MESEM program for legalizing free labor for Turkey’s youth and causing deaths and injuries due to the lack of regulations. 

"As the state pushes for child labor, children from financially struggling families naturally end up choosing (or being forced into) MESEM. These children are being prepared for futures as intermediate workers in organized industrial zones, in sectors like food, metal, and chemicals, or as service industry employees. Our children will lose their health, childhood, and youth in the workplace," noted the report. 

The report also drew attention to the immigrant children who died in workplace “accidents” between 2013 and 2024. Accordingly, 80 migrant child workers died, 71 of whom were Syrian, six Afghan, one Iraqi, one Iranian, and one Turkmen.

The death rate among migrant child workers was 12%, which is twice the rate of migrant worker deaths in general workplace accidents. Nearly all the deceased migrant child workers were Syrian, a result of mass displacement and poverty following the war in Syria. Migrant child worker deaths are concentrated in seasonal agriculture, food-textile-metal industries, construction, and general labor sectors.