Access to work in Jordan & Lebanon for Syrian refugees, migrant workers & host populations

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26 July 2017

Bringing facts back to Lebanon's refugee conversation

Author: Alessandra Bajec, Aljazeera

 ...[According to] demographic data from the United Nations refugee agency, more than 80 percent of Syrian refugees in Lebanon are women and children. That would mean the refugee population includes only around 200,000 men, indicating that Syrian refugees are a lesser burden on the labour market - associated with an inflow of working-age male job seekers - than is commonly believed. Another major misconception among Lebanese citizens is that the refugee influx has weakened the country's economy...when in reality it is the Syrian war itself that has negatively impacted trade and tourism. "Tourism, banking and real estate, some of Lebanon's main economic drivers, have been badly hit by the Syria crisis, not by the refugee population," noted Wissam Harake, an economist at the World Bank Group's Beirut office, citing a recent report on the effects of Syria's war on the Lebanese economy between 2011 and 2013. In contrast to the common perception that refugees are purely a financial burden, consumption and investment within the refugee community have helped to alleviate some of the costs associated with the influx...Syrian refugees pay more than $1m in daily rent across Lebanon...They also spend more than $22m every month on food, according to the World Food Programme... 

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11 July 2017

Jordan: Report examines barriers to inclusion of Syrian refugees in labour market

Author: Better Work, ILO, IFC

As the conflict in Syria enters its sixth year, Jordan continues to shoulder a disproportionate refugee burden as it hosts 2.7 million refugees, making it the second largest refugee-hosting country per inhabitants in the world. Jordan has opened its doors to more than 650,000 Syrian refugees; the vast majority – around 79% – live outside of camps and face precarious living conditions. This report focuses on the livelihoods component of the Jordan Compact and provides a timely analysis of the new enabling environment created by the modified trade agreements between Jordan and the EU. While the Jordan Compact envisions the creation of a robust investment landscape, [the report's] primary focus is to examine the barriers faced by Syrian refugees’ in their pursuit of work permits and sustainable livelihoods in Jordan. To this end, [it] analyses specific barriers that limit the formal employment of Syrian refugees in the Development Zones, particularly in the export industry. Putting refugee perspectives at the centre of the analysis, the research reveals key recommendations for meaningful strategies to increase the formal participation of Syrian refugees in the Jordanian labour market. Beyond identifying ways in which Syrian refugees can access formal work in Jordan, it is paramount that they are able to access decent work opportunities to secure sustainable livelihoods and most importantly, their dignity...[The primary] research findings are based on 41 semi-structured expert and stakeholder interviews with government, non-governmental organizations (NGO), international organizations, donor agencies, trade and employers’ unions, academia, and refugees and five Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with a total of 138 Syrian refugees in Jordan.

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4 July 2017

Lebanon: Syrian construction workers suffer from poor living conditions and sponsorship system restrictions

Author: Timour Azhari, The Daily Star (Lebanon)

“Migrant construction workers feel the squeeze”, 23 June 2017

…[Syrian construction] workers have lived in [informal housing] for more than three years while building a luxury tower – located in Beirut…According to several workers…there were at one point over 75 people living beside the construction site in…inhuman conditions. Workers…asked for increased pay…requesting a raise from $20 a day to $22, though they stopped short of demanding better living conditions out of fear they might be laid off…In January 2015, amendments were made to regulations regarding the entry and residence of Syrian nationals in Lebanon – applying…the kafala (sponsorship) system to Syrian labor…The new residency regulations have been criticized by rights groups, the Beirut-based NGO KAFA among others, for being too costly and restrictive. Under these rules, Syrians not registered with UNHCR are tasked with finding a legal sponsor who will take responsibility for them while…in Lebanon. 

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4 July 2017

How have Syrian refugees contributed to Lebanon’s economy?

Author: Federica Marsi, The Daily Star (Lebanon)

“Syrian refugees: A boom for Lebanon’s economy?”, 20 June 2016

 …Despite the dire economic situation for many refugees in Lebanon, and contrary to the common perception, refugees continue to contribute substantially to the Lebanese economy...Data collected by UNHCR in 2016 showed that 80.5 percent of refugees in Lebanon were women and children, which suggests that only a small minority of the Syrian population is in fact competing on the informal job market for industries such as construction… While it is true that refugees are poor…over $20 million in food allowances, for instance, is allocated every month by the World Food Program to refugee families and vulnerable Lebanese via “cash-for-food” electronic cards. These funds are then directly reinjected by the recipients into the Lebanese economy, in the form of food purchases at local stores… Similarly, research conducted by UNHCR also highlights a staggering $1.03 million per day spent by Syrian refugees on housing in Lebanon – which amounts to a total of $378 million annually… Overall, the international community poured a total of $1.26 billion into Lebanon to support refugees from Syria in 2016 alone. 

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21 June 2017

'A challenging market becomes more challenging: Jordanian workers, migrant workers & refugees in the Jordanian labour market'

Author: ILO

Financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the ILO has conducted a study which aims to provide practical solutions to three potentially conflicting policy aims in Jordan’s labour market: boosting Jordanian employment, ensuring decent working conditions for all including migrant workers, and incorporating Syrian refugees into the workforce... The report examines five specific sectors: agriculture, construction, domestic work, manufacturing and tourism. Its findings and recommendations are based on thorough literature review and comprehensive primary data gathering among nearly 1,000 informants, including employers, Jordanian and foreign workers, government officials and other key actors. [The report recommends, among other things, to] enable Jordanians to compete for work by ensuring a clear and harmonised set of working conditions for all jobs; [to] develop programmes aimed at increasing employment of Jordanians; [and, to] consider modifications of the regulations governing migration and work permits.

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Author: منظمة العمل الدولية

سوق محفوف بالتحديات يغدو أكثر تحديا: عمال أردنيون، عمال مهاجرون ولاجئون في سوق العمل الأردني

أجرت منظمة العمل الدولية ... دراسة تهدف إلى ايجاد حلول عملية لثلاثة أهداف خاصة بالسياسة العامة قد تكون متباينة في سوق العمل الأردني: تعزيز تشغيل الأردنيين، وضمان ظروف عمل لائقة لكافة العمال، بمن فيهم العمال المهاجرين، ودمج اللاجئين السوريين في القوى العاملة. فقد فاقم دخول السوريين إلى سوق العمل الأردني وضعًا يزخر أساسًا بالتحديات. وبات سوق العمل الآن يضم ثلاث فئات من العمال في الأردن: الأردنيون، والعمال المهاجرون واللاجئون السوريون. ونظرًا لتواجد أعداد كبيرة من الفئات الثلاث، لا بدّ من معالجة تحديات أي فئة ضمن سياق سوق العمل ككل. وتهدف هذه الدراسة، القائمة على عمل ميداني مكثف، إلى المساهمة في النقاش حول ثلاثة تحديات تواجهها السياسة العامة: زيادة تشغيل الأردنيين، ضمان ظروف عمل لائقة في كافة الوظائف ودمج العمال السوريين في سوق العمل.

و تبرز الدراسة  ثلاث نتائج من العمل الميداني. أولًا، خلافا لما هو سائد حول ثقافة العيب، يتحدث العمال الأردنيون عن ظروف عمل محددة تؤثّر على رغبتهم وحماسهم للعمل، أياً يكن القطاع أو المهنة. ثانيًا، إن ظروف العمل السائدة في أوساط العمال المهاجرين واللاجئين السوريين تضع العمال الأردنيين في وضع سيء مقارنة بغير الأردنيين. ثالثًا، على الرغم من أن القوانين التي ترعى نظام الهجرة وتصاريح العمل في الأردن دقيقة، برز تباعد بين الأنظمة المتعلقة بالقانون من جهة، واحتياجات أصحاب العمل والعمال لترتيبات العمل قصير الأمد والعمل بدوام جزئي من جهة أخرى.

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5 June 2017

Jobs make the difference: Expanding economic opportunities for Syrian refugees & host communities

Author: United Nations Development Programme, Regional Development & Protection Programme, World Food Programme, Int. Labor Organization

The goal of this report is to provide pragmatic, empirically grounded evidence to support efforts by these three key actors—host nations, the international donor community and  the private sector—to achieve this  ambitious political goal of creating 1.1  million new jobs by 2018. This report does not assess the feasibility of creating this many jobs, where these jobs might be created (the London  Conference proceedings themselves are agnostic on this topic), the  relative share of new jobs that might  benefit Syrian refugees vis-à-vis host communities or the number of jobs  created thus far.

Specifically, the intent of this report is instead to identify approaches likely to expand “economic opportunities”—which include entrepreneurship, self- employment and formal employment in firms—for Syrian refugees, IDPs and host communities. The research explores the challenges faced in both accessing and creating economic opportunities, and examines how these challenges might be overcome, drawing on existing successes across  the region.

This analysis focuses on six nations in the region hosting Syrians displaced by the crisis: Egypt; Jordan; Iraq, specifically the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI); Lebanon; Turkey and Syria itself. The five neighbouring nations now host more than 5 million Syrian refugees, and an estimated 6.3 million  IDPs are hosted by communities  throughout Syria.

Though the London Conference did not explicitly include Syria in the aspirational 1.1 million new jobs, supporting access to jobs for Syrians inside Syria is an integral part of a comprehensive approach to fulfilling the London commitments, as expanding opportunities in Syria wherever feasible may mitigate the job creation burden in neighbouring countries…

The London Conference for Supporting Syria
and the Region, held in February 2016, set
an ambitious goal: create 1.1 million jobs for
Syrian refugees and their host communities
by 2018. Neighbouring nations hosting Syrian
refugees—Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and
Turkey—made bold commitments to open
their labour markets and improve the domestic
regulatory environment; the international
community committed to support employment
creation programmes and access to both
concessional financing and external markets;
and representatives from the private sector
committed to providing new investments.

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5 June 2017

Jordan: Better Work 2017 report finds forced labour, abuses of freedom of association & health & safety commonplace in garment factories

Author: Better Work Jordan

"Annual Report 2017: Better Work Jordan", 16 Feb 2017

Better Work Jordan has been conducting assessments of the working conditions in Jordanian exporting apparel factories since 2009. Each assessment consists of a two-day on-site visit, which includes meetings with management and workers, document reviews, and observations from factory facilities and dormitories. The goal of the programme is to ensure continuous improvements in the industry working and thus raising the overall compliance level. This report illustrates findings from assessments conducted between November 2015 and December 2016 by Better Work Jordan in 67 factories. The data collected reports non-compliance with labour standards based on eight clusters: four based on ILO Core Labour Standards encompassing Child Labour, Discrimination, Forced Labour, and Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining, and four clusters based on the national law regarding working conditions in regards to Compensation, Contracts and Human Resources, Occupational Safety and Health, and Working Time. Assessment results from factories covered in this report are largely consistent with findings of the past reports – with non-compliance concentrated in Occupational Safety and Health, Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining and Contracts and Human Resources...

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16 May 2017

IKEA to employ Syrian refugees at production centers in Jordan

Author: Marcus Fairs

“IKEA aims to take 200,000 people out of poverty in massive social sustainability drive”, 18 April 2017

IKEA is to employ refugees at production centres in Jordan this summer as part of a long-term plan to create employment for 200,000 disadvantaged people around the world through social entrepreneurship programmes. The centres in Jordan, which should be operational by August, will employ a mixture of Syrian refugees and Jordanians in the production of woven products including rugs, cushions and bedspreads. IKEA will build and equip the production centres, in which skilled craftspeople will work on handmade items.

The Swedish furniture giant is partnering with Jordan River Foundation, a non-governmental organisation established by Jordan's Queen Rania, which will manage the facilities and employ 100 people to start with, rising to 400 people within two years. Half will be refugees and half local workers…"Two-hundred thousand is our long-term ambition," said Jesper Brodin, IKEA's head of range and supply. "It may take 10-15 years. We want these people to be our future suppliers."…The centres will be located in and around Amman in northern Jordan, close to refugee camps strung along the border with Syria, from where an estimated 1.3 million refugees have poured since the start of Syria's civil war in 2011. "It's important that it's not only geared towards the refugees," Brodin explained. "We're also making sure that this benefits the Jordan population as well."

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9 May 2017

Jordan: Govt., EU & ILO launch EU-Jordan Compact pilot project to facilitate trade & create jobs for both Syrian refugees & Jordanians

Author: Laila Azzeh, Jordan Times

"Pilot project to reduce unemployment launched"

A new pilot project to help reduce unemployment and facilitate the relaxation of the rules of origin agreement was launched on Wednesday in cooperation between the government and international stakeholders. The Ministry of Labour, the EU and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) signed the agreement on Wednesday, under which Jordanians and Syrians alike will be put in contact with employers, raising their chances to find decent work opportunities. Under the one-million-euro project, the ILO will facilitate the implementation of the Jordan-EU agreement on simplified rules of origin, which seeks to help Jordan access the EU market. The relaxed rules will be applied once 200,000 jobs for Syrian refugees are created and when those Syrians are issued work permits, according to the agreement. For Jordanian industries to be able to benefit from the EU simplified rules of origin, each factory needs to have Syrian employees constituting no less than 15 per cent of its manpower. The rate will be increased to 25 per cent in the third year of the agreement. According to organisers, the ILO will extend the core services of one of its programmes — Better Work Jordan — to further manufacturing sectors, to help Jordanian companies abide by the country’s labour law and meet international labour standards. The pilot project also seeks to support the implementation of the EU-Jordan Compact, which includes assisting Jordanian companies to take advantage of trade opportunities provided by the new trade facilitation, leading to job creation for both Jordanian and Syrian refugees...

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