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Keeping refugees occupied

Aug 03,2014 - Last updated at Aug 03,2014

The Ministry of Labour is mulling a new policy to deal with Syrian refugees working in Jordan without a work permit. 

Under current rules and regulations, foreigners found working in the Kingdom without a permit are deported to their country of origin. 

However, this does not apply in the case of Syrians in light of the situation in Syria, so the government is considering a new approach under which any refugee found working without a permit will be sent back to a camp. 

This makes sense under the current circumstances, as the refugee camps housing Syrians are their temporary legal residence, and not Syria. 

Repatriating any refugee to Syria would run the risk of violating the principle of non-refoulement, which stipulates that no persons should be deported to their homeland from which they fled to avoid persecution or ill treatment. 

This new policy, however, will not solve the Syrian refugee employment crisis. 

Unemployment in Jordan is still high, standing at 12.6 per cent last year, and if Syrian refugees enter the labour market with impunity, Jordanian workers will be the prime losers. 

On the other hand, not providing Syrians with job opportunities could lead to the spread of crime and social disorder within camps and host communities, where 80 per cent of the more than 600,000 registered refugees live. 

The various UN agencies operating in the country must work together to provide some kind of employment for Syrian refugees within the camps. 

This approach has been applied in the UAE-funded Mreijeb Al Fhoud Refugee Camp, 25km east of Zarqa, which provides jobs for refugees willing to work, who receive monthly salaries. 

Since the solution to the Syrian conflict is not in sight, it might be several years before the refugees can return to their country. 

Something must be done in the meantime to occupy them.

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