Discussion Paper 25: Examining Barriers to Workforce Inclusion of Syrian Refugees in Jordan

5 Jul 2017

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.

Against this backdrop, the Jordan Compact signals a paradigm shift in responding to the Syrian refugee crisis as it sets out a roadmap to achieve long term resilience for Jordanians and Syrian refugees alike by shifting the focus from short-term aid to job creation, growth, and investment.

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, our 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, this report 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.

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