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Syrians having easier access to jobs in Jordan — UNHCR

By Mohammad Ghazal - Apr 25,2016 - Last updated at Apr 25,2016

AMMAN — Access to jobs is improving for Syrian refugees in Jordan, according to the UN Higher Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), which said that recent government measures have led to the legal employment of 78,000 Syrian workers in the short term and thousands more in the coming years.

The UNHCR, which welcomed the government’s efforts in this regard, said these measures would help Syrian refugees become more self-sufficient and would significantly ease the way for Syrian refugees to work legally in Jordan.

Early this month, the Labour Ministry gave Syrians, who work in the country without permits, a three-month period to rectify their situation as a step to legalise their employment. The ministry has previously said there are some 90,000 Syrians in the country’s job market, with only less than 5,000 with work permits. 

There are some 1.3 million Syrians in Jordan, according to government figures.

Over 640,000 Syrian refugees are registered with UNHCR in Jordan, with more than 85 per cent of whom are living outside of camps. A recent study showed nine out of 10 Syrians living outside camps live below the Jordanian poverty line of JD68 ($87) per capita per month, according to UNHCR.  

 “The 90-day grace period potentially puts Syrian refugees on the same footing as migrant workers who are allowed to work in jobs such as construction, agriculture, the service industry, food and beverages, wholesale and some factories,” the UNHCR said in a statement on its website.

Following the London donor conference in February, the government announced that donor countries pledged millions of dollars to help Jordan cope with the Syrian refugee crisis in the form of grants and cheap loans, while the Kingdom has pledged to integrate Syrians into the labour market. 

The government’s recent decision is good news for employers too, the UNHCR said.

“For employers of Syrians, the new grace period also allows them to legalise workers and avoid steep fines of between $280 and $2,100 which were imposed previously and have seen the closure of some 70 businesses to date,” the UNHCR said.

The agency said since the beginning of March, Jordanian authorities have also allowed Syrian refugees to use UNHCR-issued asylum-seeker cards and Jordanian Ministry of Interior identity cards to obtain work permits. Previously, the only way to do so was using a passport and proof of legal entry into the country. As most Syrian refugees lack passports and proof of legal entry status, many were precluded from having jobs. Authorities have now removed that requirement, paving the way for thousands more Syrians to be legally employed.

UNHCR has long been advocating for more support to Jordan and other key refugee hosting countries, including better access to development funds and low interest loans. 

A major factor in supporting Jordan’s new measures is the World Bank’s commitment to providing Jordan with near zero per cent loans of  $300-$500 million tied to indicators like the granting of work permits to Syrian refugees, the agency said.

UNHCR is also playing a role in improving access to labour for refugees, and earlier this month, it launched a pilot project to help 2,000 Syrians get jobs in the export garment sector, as a partner of the “Better Work Jordan” programme run by the International Labour Organisation. 

 

We believe the combined effort of these various initiatives will go a long way to help Syrian refugees become more sufficient and bring economic benefits to Jordan, which has felt the macro-economic consequences of a region influx and the heavy cost of fighting in Syria. As the Syrian crisis drags on, there is an urgent need to improve conditions and stability for the increasingly aid-dependent refugees.

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