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

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12 July 2016

Jordan extends waiver period for Syrian refugee permits

Author: Associated Press

Original publication date: 11 Jun 2016

Jordan has given employers hiring Syrian refugees an additional three months to get work permits for them without paying fees.

The Labor Ministry said Monday that 13,000 Syrians received work permits during an initial three-month waiver period ending last week, and that the program has been extended.

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12 July 2016

Jordan: High expectations for job creation for Syrian refugees, if foreign govts. come through with aid

Author: Somini Sengupta, New York Times

"If a Carrot for Jordan Works, Syrian Refugees Will Stay Put", 9 July 2016

...Jordan, which has 650,000 Syrian refugees registered with the United Nations inside its borders, has long made it nearly impossible for them to work legally, citing concerns about high unemployment among its citizens. But under the new experiment, the government has given out 13,000 work permits to Syrians, and is promising to issue up to 50,000 by year’s end — and tens of thousands more in the future.

In exchange, the World Bank is giving Jordan a $300 million interest-free loan, the likes of which are traditionally reserved for extremely poor countries in Africa. Western nations, including the United States, have offered roughly $60 million to build schools to accommodate Syrian children. And Jordan is close to clinching what it wants most: tax-free exports to the European Union, especially garments stitched in its industrial export zones...[refers to Under Armour, one of the companies sourcing from Al Hassan Industrial Estate]

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12 July 2016

Mid-Year Report: 3RP - Regional Refugee & Resilience Plan In Response to the Syria Crisis

Author: 3RP Syria Crisis

Original publication date: June 2016

..The Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) in response to the Syria Crisis brings together more than 200 partners in a coordinated, region-wide response to assist Syrian refugees and the communities hosting them...

[Findings under "livelihoods" theme]:

- Underfunding is severely compromising efforts by 3RP partners to help a target of 282,000 individuals, including refugees and members of impacted communities, to benefit directly from wage employment opportunities in 2016.

- Lack of international funding support will hamper the achievement of the London Compact commitments of Lebanon, including the need to create job opportunities through investments at municipal level and temporary employment programmes in Lebanon.

- In Jordan, while accelerating the implementation of the Jordan Compact is crucial, it is equally important to ensure that the interventions to enhance social cohesion and to address the structural issues of labour market re well-resourced, with the private sector as a catalyst for growth.

- In Turkey, if underfunding continues it will not be possible to extend vocational skills training, basic life skills and employment support skills for Syrian refugees in need living under Temporary Protection, as well as support vulnerable Turkish host communities.

- Across the region, activities to localize resilience will be compromised, including investment in sustainable livelihoods, job creation targets and support to local and national knowledge, capacities and resources.

- Scaled up support is needed to strengthen national efforts to support vulnerable groups, especially youth. In Jordan, this can be achieved by support to rapid response activities through the established community cohesion grant mechanism.

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9 July 2016

Employment through Labour Intensive Infrastructure in Jordan

Author: ILO

... This project aims to support the Government of Jordan in creating immediate jobs through Employment Intensive Investment Programmes (EIIP) in Irbid and Mafraq, for both Syrian women and men refugees and their host communities, while also improving local infrastructures...

[Activities include]: 

  • Improving tertiary roads, through drains construction for existing roads using labour – based technologies;
  • Expanding agricultural infrastructure of local farmers, by building water catchments to collect rain water and soil protection arrangements through terracing and planting;
  • Building additional classrooms at high-density student schools and rehabilitating existing old schools using labour-based methods;
  • Enhancing the capacity of the private sector at national and local level to implement employment intensive approaches for men and for women, through designing and rolling out a training package for engineers on employment intensive methods; training and on the job coaching of private sector companies; and preparing a four-months national curricula for engineers on gender-sensitive employment intensive approaches..

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5 July 2016

UNHCR and partners warn in Syria report of growing poverty, refugee needs

Author: UNHCR

A report released today on the Syria refugee response finds that, while significant progress has been made in providing assistance, the number of Syrian refugees living in poverty continues to rise in host countries in the region and providing access to basic services remains a critical challenge.

The mid-year report of the 2016 Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP), released by UNHCR and more than 200 international and national actors, looks at progress so far this year in helping refugees and host communities in Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt...

There was...promising news in the livelihoods sector, with work permits issued by Jordan to Syrians and a new regulation allowing Syrian refugee access to employment in Turkey. These positive initiatives, supported at February’s London Conference on Syria, need to be matched by the international community with continuing generous funding and responsibility sharing.

Despite this progress, the report warns of growing poverty. It says that in Lebanon, the average debt held by refugee households has increased over the first quarter of 2016 and the number of people living below the poverty line has risen to 70 per cent compared to 50 per cent in 2014. In Jordan, 90 per cent of registered Syrian refugees in urban areas are below the national poverty line, while over 67 per cent of families are living in debt. In Egypt, some 62,000 refugees are living in poverty.

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18 June 2016

Jordan: Govt. says 11,500 work permits issued to Syrians

Author: Laila Azzeh, Jordan Times

A total of 11,500 work permits have been issued to Syrians since April, when the Cabinet agreed to give Syrian workers free permits, the Labour Ministry said on Saturday.  

Syrian workers and their employers were given a three-month grace period to obtain work permits in April, after Jordan pledged to integrate Syrians into the labour market at the London donor conference in February. 

“We estimate that there are 90,000 Syrians in the job market, and having 11,500 come to us for work permits means that things are moving to the right direction,” ministry spokesperson, Mohammad Khatib, told The Jordan Times...

Khatib highlighted that licences to employ Syrians were mostly given in sectors related to agriculture, manufacturing and food production. 

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12 May 2016

A critical juncture: Syrian refugees and migrant workers in Jordan

Author: Annabel Short, Deputy Director, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

...Eager to stem the movement of refugees into European countries, EU governments have committed to invest in Jordan to stimulate job-creation...

There are still many important unanswered questions:

  • Will all the promised investment for jobs from governments come through, and into what industries?
  • What kind of jobs will be created?  Decent jobs with a living wage, or temporary, poorly-paid exploitative work limited to sectors that others shun?
  • How will initiatives to create employment for Syrian refugees also take into account the needs of the Jordanian workforce (with a current unemployment rate of 14%), and of the significant existing migrant worker populations in Jordan?  Currently 70% of Jordan’s agricultural workers are Egyptian for example, as are many in the service sector.
  • Will these jobs help to keep Syrian children out of the workplace?  Many are now working in hazardous conditions to earn income for their families - UNICEF estimates that one in ten Syrian refugees in the region is engaged in child labour...

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12 May 2016

EBRD and UK to tackle refugee crisis in Jordan

Author: The Financial

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the government of the United Kingdom (UK) are working together to strengthen Jordan’s resilience to the refugee crisis which is having a great impact on the relatively small country.

The UK, through its Department for International Development (DFID), is providing an initial £5 million grant to co-finance a recently approved EBRD investment worth up to €180 million to support the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) in implementing a comprehensive solid waste programme designed to cope with the crisis.

The UK grant is part of a larger contribution worth £30 million focusing on strengthening Jordan’s capacity to cope with the inflow of refugees...

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7 May 2016

Peace, bread and work - Jobs for Syrian refugees help them and their hosts, and slow their exodus

Author: Economist

...British officials say that the Syrian refugees are likely to spend 5-10 years in Jordan. Yet offering them jobs is sensitive in a country such as this, where the unemployment rate is above 14% (and almost twice that for women). It would also feed the perception that immigrants are an economic burden on host countries. “We have a joke here,” says a local businessman who supports giving jobs to refugees: “The Egyptian is cleaning, the Syrian is selling, the Iraqi is buying, and the Jordanian is watching.”

To assuage such fears, Jordan hopes to attract new foreign investment to take advantage of its access to Europe’s market. Companies including Asda, a British subsidiary of Walmart, an American retailer, and IKEA, a Swedish home-furnishing store, have flown to Jordan to take a look...

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26 April 2016

"A push for education and livelihoods for refugees in Jordan"

Author: Sam Mednick, Devex

It’s been almost four years since Syrian refugees fleeing conflict started congregating in Zaatari, Jordan, today home to the world’s second largest refugee camp.

Now with 80,000 residents, the emergency response phase is over, Hovig Etyemezian, UNHCR senior field coordinator and camp manager, told Devex. His agency’s focus now is on creating sustainable change and looking toward to the future...

..."...there’s the issue of livelihoods and work permits. [United Nations Secretary-General] Ban Ki-moon was just here, as well as the head of World Bank, and the discussion was and is: how do we expand Jordan’s economy so that Jordanians and Syrian refugees can [both] benefit. We’re at the start of this discussion and it will take time until everyone is clear as to how the regulatory framework will work, how the refugees are going to be working, and what format we’re going to use, but there’s a positive momentum...

...we need to open up opportunities for livelihoods for adults to work, and you can’t do that without expanding Jordan’s economy. This means investing in bigger agricultural projects so you can make use of more of the land and use new technologies to maximize the uses of water and increase production. Then there are factories and industrial zones, and people are talking about duty free schemes in which companies are encouraged to come and open factories to produce in Jordan. We need to create more jobs, some that Jordanians can take and some the Syrians can take. Short of that, Jordan has a limited number of jobs that it can offer and you already have unemployment for Jordanians, let alone the Syrians..."

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