People walk past a currency exchange shop on August 14, 2018, in Istanbul, Turkey, after a slight recovery from heavy losses. Photo: Chris McGrath via Getty Images

Turkey is facing its worst economic crisis in decades, raising fears about its impact on the more than 3.5 million Syrians who now reside there, having fled seven years of violence at home.

The big picture: These woes could result in a decrease in discretionary spending on social service programs that benefit refugees. It could, for example, slow efforts to get Syrians into primary school and vocational training programs. That said, the crisis may not make as substantial a difference in practice to these endeavors as some fear.

First, spending on programs that benefit non-citizens was already politically unpopular. Especially at the local level, Turkish government efforts on behalf of refugees have often been quiet, and can continue to be. Second, at least some of the funding for these efforts comes from the EU–Turkey deal, which is not affected by the downturn. More broadly, as the Turkish lira weakens, Euros are likely to go further than before.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t cause for concern. Competition in the informal labor market will likely become tougher. Growth is expected to slow significantly at a time when unemployment figures were already rising. That could increase vulnerability to exploitative work conditions. It could also result in an uptick in child labor, indirectly resulting in a decline in school enrollments and attendance.

What to watch: Meanwhile, if Assad launches a full-scale assault in Syria’s northwest province of Idlib, the country’s last remaining opposition stronghold, more than 2 million Syrians could try to flee to Turkey. Especially against the backdrop of economic crisis, that could further exacerbate intercommunal tensions already on the rise.

Jessica Brandt is a fellow in the foreign policy program at the Brookings Institution. Kemal Kirişci is a senior fellow and director of the Turkey Project at the Brookings Institution. 

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 12,859,834 — Total deaths: 567,123 — Total recoveries — 7,062,085Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 3,297,501— Total deaths: 135,155 — Total recoveries: 1,006,326 — Total tested: 40,282,176Map.
  3. States: Florida smashes single-day record for new coronavirus cases with over 15,000 — NYC reports zero coronavirus deaths for first time since pandemic hit.
  4. Public health: Ex-FDA chief projects "apex" of South's coronavirus curve in 2-3 weeks — Coronavirus testing czar: Lockdowns in hotspots "should be on the table"
  5. Education: Betsy DeVos says schools that don't reopen shouldn't get federal funds — Pelosi accuses Trump of "messing with the health of our children."

Scoop: How the White House is trying to trap leakers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has told several White House staffers he's fed specific nuggets of information to suspected leakers to see if they pass them on to reporters — a trap that would confirm his suspicions. "Meadows told me he was doing that," said one former White House official. "I don't know if it ever worked."

Why it matters: This hunt for leakers has put some White House staffers on edge, with multiple officials telling Axios that Meadows has been unusually vocal about his tactics. So far, he's caught only one person, for a minor leak.

11 GOP congressional nominees support QAnon conspiracy

Lauren Boebert posing in her restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, on April 24. Photo: Emily Kask/AFP

At least 11 Republican congressional nominees have publicly supported or defended the QAnon conspiracy theory movement or some of its tenets — and more aligned with the movement may still find a way onto ballots this year.

Why it matters: Their progress shows how a fringe online forum built on unsubstantiated claims and flagged as a threat by the FBI is seeking a foothold in the U.S. political mainstream.