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‘ILO ready with plan to help refugees, hosts access decent jobs’

By Khetam Malkawi - Jan 27,2016 - Last updated at Jan 27,2016

AMMAN — The Thursday visit by the chief of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is aimed at showing the agency’s support for Jordan as it hosts a large number of Syrian refugees, according to an official at the agency.

ILO Director General Guy Ryder is due to visit Jordan on Thursday to examine first-hand the effects of the Syria refugee crisis on Jordan’s labour market, according to ILO Assistant Director General and Regional Director for Arab States Ruba Jaradat.

The ILO is aware of the difficulties that the Kingdom is facing, especially host communities, Jaradat told The Jordan Times over the phone this week, adding: “We will support the government in its plan.”

“We work with the international community to support Jordan,” Jaradat said prior to Ryder’s visit.

The Kingdom hosts some 1.3 million Syrians, with almost half of them registered as refugees with the UNHCR. Hosting this large number of refugees has strained the country’s infrastructure, services and job market.

Ryder’s visit to Jordan takes on added significance ahead of the Syria Donors Conference, slated to take place in London on February 4, according to an ILO statement.

The objective of the London conference is not only to raise funding for humanitarian efforts in Syria, but also to provide increased support for Syria's neighbouring countries with a focus on job opportunities and education for refugees and the local hosting populations, the statement added.

In response to The Jordan Times’ questions via e-mail, the ILO said its future initiatives in Jordan will focus on a range of activities that continue to address the root causes of persistent challenges facing Syrian refugees and host communities in accessing decent jobs. 

The agency said it will focus on advocating for the integration of Syrian refugees into the labour market “that in return will benefit the Jordanian economy”, as well as continue working with social partners on bolstering livelihoods for Jordanian communities hosting refugees. 

“This includes collaborating with the government on ways to ease the procedures by which Syrians obtain work permits, especially in sectors open to non-Jordanians and those which are generally less attractive to Jordanians,” the organisation told The Jordan Times.

The ILO is also encouraging the employment of Syrians in selected industries in qualifying industrial zones to provide the labour supply needed to support sectors that contribute to Jordan’s economic growth. 

In addition, it will continue to work on initiatives to help the most vulnerable of Jordanian societies gain access to employment and income.

The ILO is also working on establishing joint business ventures between host community members and Syrian refugees. 

These joint ventures, according to the agency, will allow for local business owners to expand their outreach within the camps and for the refugees to find markets outside them. 

The ventures will also have a conflict prevention impact by bringing together the interests of the Jordanian and refugee communities, the ILO said, and the implementation of these business plans will also benefit from technical support.

Another planned activity entails establishing refugee-operated cooperatives to advocate for an improved regulatory environment and provide job-matching services for temporary jobs in targeted sectors. 

The cooperative will be hiring refugees as well as proposing their services for temporary employment to employers in selected sectors, easing the work permit issuance process by disseminating clear instructions to the labour directorates in the field around the Kingdom and specific guidelines within refugee communities, according to the agency.

Another planned ILO programme includes expanding employment-intensive investment to create job opportunities for host communities and Syrian refugees as well as enhance local infrastructure in affected areas. 

In collaboration with the government, the ILO proposes to create immediate emergency jobs for both Syrian refugees and host communities, by improving infrastructure around development zones and facilitating investments; building, rehabilitating and maintaining existing schools, hospitals and training centres; and rehabilitating roads.

Meanwhile, since it launched its response to the Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan in 2013, the ILO has initiated a series of projects aimed at supporting Syrian refugees and host communities. 

 

These projects focused on building the resilience of host communities to facilitate access to employment; strengthening institutional capacity and coordination to combat unacceptable forms of work with a focus on child labour; and supporting policy development to ensure an employment-rich national response, the agency said.

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