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

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Report
19 April 2017

Jordan: 60,000 Syrian refugee children working in dangerous conditions

Author: Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor & Syrian Network for Human Rights

Dangerous exploitation of Syrian refugee children rampant in Jordan, 12 Dec 2016

Children who fled violence in Syria to find refuge in Jordan are increasingly forced to work long hours at low wages to help their families survive... It’s estimated that at least 60,000 children from Syria are working in conditions that are often dangerous, exploitative and without any real government oversight ... 51.4 percent (668,000) of the 1.3 million Syrians living in Jordan are children. An even more neglected group are the 16,000 Palestinians who fled to Jordan from Syria, of whom about 6,560 are children. Even adults from this group are prohibited from working in Jordan … the report outlines the dynamics that force children to work instead of attending school. The primary factor is the high cost of living; Amman, the capital city of Jordan, is considered the most expensive city in the Middle East. In addition, only about 10 percent of the refugees are eligible for cash assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Yet many of the families lost breadwinners in the civil war; 30 percent of the Palestinian-Syrian families are headed by women ... Other factors fueling child labor are the demand among Jordanian employers for low-wage workers and the inability of the country’s schools to accommodate the influx of refugees. The report documents that 80 percent of child workers are not allowed any holidays and are paid wages of 90-150 dinar per month (US$127-211) --far less than the minimum wage in Jordan. In Al-Zaatari refugee camp (the largest camp in the Middle East and the second-largest worldwide) 24 percent of child workers said in a recent survey that they do not receive any payment at all...

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Article
16 April 2017

Jordan: new garment sector alliance seeks to create opportunities for refugees and local workforce

Author: Better Work

From policy to practice: A new garment sector alliance in Jordan will create opportunities for refugees, April 2017

A new garment sector-wide alliance in Jordan aims to create economic opportunities, improve the lives of refugees caught up in the Syrian crisis and help their host countries. The initiative, led by partners from the international community, was first set in motion at last year’s Supporting Syria and the Region conference in London. Backed by the World Bank Group, the Jordan Garment Sector Alliance has been formed by various partners including the International Labour Organization, Better Work Jordan, the Jordan Investment Commission, the Jordan Industrial Estates Company, the Jordan Garments, Accessories, and Textiles Exporters’ Association (JGate) and the Jordan Chamber of Industry and Trade… The garment industry is seen as one of the sectors that can absorb both refugees and the local workforce since work is labour-intensive and more than half of its 70,000 workers already come from abroad, mostly hailing from South and South-East Asia. Jordan’s 1.6 billion USD apparel industry accounts for some 20 per cent of the country’s exports, said JGATE chairman Husam Saleh at a recent alliance meeting in Amman, stressing that the industry had registered a six per cent increase in apparel exports year on year… [an] official also suggested repeating the successful model of “satellite factories” for Jordanians—branches of large companies scattered across the country’s rural areas — for Syrians, establishing them next to refugee camps, for example.

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Article
10 April 2017

Commentary: Why jobs in special economic zones won't solve the problems facing the world's refugees

Author: Heaven Crawley, The Conversation (UK)

...two Oxford professors, Alexander Betts and Paul Collier, are calling on politicians to harness "the remarkable opportunities of globalisation" to reorient the refugee system away from humanitarian assistance and towards development...One of the "big ideas"... is that global capitalism can ride to the rescue of the refugee system through the creation of jobs for refugees within special economic zones (SEZs) in countries such as Jordan...the increased interest shown by the EU and international organisations such as the World Bank is certainly new and clearly reflects more recent political and economic developments – particularly in the EU and Jordan...

Evidence from SEZs in Asia shows how labour rights have been compromised, resulting in extremely low wages, forced overtime and different forms of abuse. So much so that in India they have been dubbed "special exploitation zones"...the Jordan Compact has so far benefited a small proportion of refugees despite huge political and financial effort.The reasons are complex...they reflect a failure on the part of governments and international organisations to engage with the complex realities of the Jordanian labour market – which is already highly dependent on migrant labour – and the needs and aspirations of refugees themselves. Within SEZs, the jobs on offer are typically low- or semi-skilled with long and repetitive hours. Those who have tried to hire Syrians in larger numbers, for example within the garment industry, have found that the take-up has been poor. Whereas other migrant workers are typically single, many Syrians struggle with childcare responsibilities and poor transport links from the places they are living to SEZs.

SEZs are a tool for creating livelihood opportunities for some refugees in some contexts. But addressing the profoundly political problems that underpin the drivers of forced migration and have come to mark the international community's response to it will require.. the kind of alliances and allegiances that challenge and confront some of the profound inequalities with which global capitalism has come to be associated.

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Article
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Author: الوسط – المحرر الدولي

الأردن يتطلع إلى تحويل أزمة اللاجئين إلى نعمة اقتصادية، 24 مارس 2017

في فبراير من العام الماضي، اتفق الأردن والمجتمع الدولي على اتباع نهج جديد جذرياً إزاء أزمة اللاجئين السوريين. فبدلاً من اعتبار اللاجئين عبئاً لا يمكن تخفيفه إلا من خلال المساعدات الإنسانية، وصفهم الاتفاق الجديد بأنهم "فرصة إنمائية" يمكن أن تفيد الاقتصاد الأردني بأكمله، إذا توفرت لهم مستويات كافية من الاستثمار والإصلاحات الهيكلية...وفقاً للبنك الدولي، الذي يساعد على تمويل تنفيذ الاتفاق، فإنه "فوز مضمون للأردن"، ولكن بعد مرور أكثر من عام، لا يزال الأردن يكافح من أجل ترجمة نهجه جديد إلى مزيد من الفرص الاقتصادية للسوريين أو الأردنيين...وبالاضافة إلى التمويل، تلقى الأردن وعوداً بإعفاء تجارته مع الاتحاد الأوروبي من الرسوم، مقابل إصدار ما لا يقل عن 200,000 تصريح عمل للسوريين...وبعد عام، حصل الأردن على تمويل بقيمة 923.6 مليون دولار...ولكن النتائج المرجوة لم تتحقق بعد. وقد أصبحت تصاريح العمل متاحة على نطاق واسع للسوريين اعتباراً من أبريل 2016، ولكن بحلول فبراير 2017، تم إصدار 38,516 تصريحاً فقط، وفقاً لوزارة العمل الأردنية.

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Article
27 March 2017

Commentary: "I visited a Syrian refugee camp, & here’s what business leaders should know"

Author: John Fallon, CEO of Pearson, in Fortune (USA)

...While government leaders work towards a political solution, business leaders have a valuable role to play not only through charitable activities, but through real investments. Last September, I visited the Za’atari refugee camp in the north of Jordan with Save the Children, where 80,000 Syrians live, work and learn. Listening to young people, their parents and teachers talk about their experiences at the camp made a huge impression on me...The Syrians I met were focused on gaining the knowledge and skills to help them find a future job... build their own businesses and drive the growth of their country once the fighting has ended. It’s in everyone’s interests for business to invest in these people as much as they’re investing in themselves...All of this is happening at a time when 40% of employers worldwide can’t fill vacancies because they lack properly trained workers. As leaders, we have a moral and a business responsibility to move young people into that workforce pipeline, regardless of their background. Companies opening these opportunities are seeing benefits for their business and those striving for a better life. Microsoft and Pearson are working with Syrian refugee students in Jordan and Lebanon to administer MS Office exams so students can gain practical skills. Chobani has a program to hire refugees resettled in the US and LinkedIn is leveraging its platform in Sweden in a pilot program to match refugees with jobs there. These partnerships are important because they provide sustained support after the initial humanitarian emergency. But none of them can be successful until we address the need to educate Syria’s young people...The world’s largest companies have a responsibility. Businesses have the reach, expertise and resources to make a real difference for people affected by conflict...

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Article
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Author: هيومن رايتس ووتش

لبنان: سياسة اللجوء الجديدة خطوة إلى الأمام، 14 فبراير 2017

قالت "هيومن رايتس ووتش" اليوم إن قرار إلغاء الرسوم الباهظة التي منعت العديد من السوريين من الحفاظ على وضع قانوني في لبنان هو خطوة إيجابية. لكن يبدو أن القرار يستبعد عددا من اللاجئين الأكثر عرضة للخطر. الإجراءات الجديدة، التي أعلن عنها الأمن العام الأسبوع الماضي، ستسقط رسم الإقامة السنوية البالغ 200 دولار عن اللاجئين السوريين في لبنان، شرط أن يكونوا قد سُجلوا لدى  "المفوضية السامية للأمم المتحدة لشؤون اللاجئين" (المفوضية) قبل 1 يناير/كانون الثاني 2015، أو حصلوا على الإقامة بناء على شهادة المفوضية مرة واحدة على الأقل عام 2015 أو 2016... يستثني القرار السوريين غير المسجلين لدى المفوضية، أي ما يقارب 500 ألف شخص وفقا لتقديرات الحكومة. في 6 مايو/أيار 2015، علقت المفوضية تسجيل اللاجئين السوريين في لبنان بناء على طلب من الحكومة اللبنانية... 

اعتمد لبنان شروط إقامة جديدة في يناير/كانون الثاني 2015، لم يستطع معظم اللاجئين استيفائها. دون تمتعهم بإقامة، يمكن  اعتقال اللاجئين وتقييد حركتهم. يصعّب عليهم ذلك العمل... أدى العجز عن العمل إلى تفاقم الفقر وسط اللاجئين، مما يؤدي إلى زيادة عمل الأطفال والزواج المبكر. انعدام الصفة القانونية ترك اللاجئين عرضة لمجموعة من الانتهاكات، منها الاستغلال في العمل، الانتهاكات الجنسية، والعجز عن اللجوء إلى السلطات لطلب الحماية خوفا من أن تعتقلهم الشرطة بسبب انتهاء صلاحية إقامتهم... وجدت هيومن رايتس ووتش أن مكاتب الأمن العام تطبق سياسات الإقامة بشكل غير متسق، بما في ذلك عن طريق الاشتراط على اللاجئين المسجلين لدى المفوضية الحصول على كفيل، وتوقيع السوريين على تعهد بعدم العمل حتى بعد إلغاء هذا الشرط في 2016.

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Report
20 March 2017

Jordan: Working and living conditions of migrant workers & refugees

Author: Tamkeen Fields for Aid

“Walled in by Alienation: Working and Living Conditions of Migrant Workers in Jordan”, 03 Mar 2017

...[This report] brings attention to the fact that the number of migrant workers in Jordan is close to 1,200,000 and that the number holding a work permit is 315,016. The report adds that Jordan has taken substantial and concrete steps to protect migrant workers legislatively, even though some practices and gaps hinder these measures. [it] shows that migrant workers in particular are exposed to numerous violations because of their presence in a foreign country with limited social and economic support... it is important to implement a system that seeks to protect the rights of migrant workers through providing them social assistance and services. If methods of prevention and protection fail, it is important to prosecute those who violate the human rights of workers. The report also discusses several topics such as: the international and local legal framework for migrant workers, their work conditions and environment, their numbers, nationalities, and distribution across sectors of work. Furthermore, one section of the report is set aside to talk about the victims, and suspected victims, of human trafficking in Jordan. Another segment will discuss the detention of migrant workers and alternatives to detention...The report also addressed the conditions of Syrian refugees in the labor market... it also discussed the common reasons for regular migrant workers becoming irregular. Among the most important of these reasons was employers not renewing work and/or residency permits and the applications of a system where foreign workers are prohibited from certain professions.

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Article
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Author: عبدالله الربيحات

"وزارة الزراعة تؤكد أن القرار الحكومي يهدف لتصويب الاختلالات والفاعليات الزراعية تحذر: رفع رسوم تصاريح العمالة الوافدة يدمر القطاع"، 16 فبراير 2016

حذر ممثلو الفاعليات الزراعية من ان قرار الحكومة الاخير بتوحيد ورفع رسوم تصاريح العمالة الوافدة سيؤدي الى الحاق اضرار كبيرة بالزراعة والمزراعين وباقي القطاعات المرتبطة بالانتاج الزراعي، فيما دافعت وزارة الزراعة والحكومة عن قرارها باعتباره جاء لـ"تصويب اختلالات عديدة في عملية منح التصاريح للعمالة الوافدة في الزراعة".

كما حذرت  من ان يؤدي القرار الى "ارتفاع اسعار المنتجات الزراعية في السوق المحلية، نتيجة انخفاض العرض"، فضلا عن "خسارة حصتنا في اسواق الخضار والفواكة الخارجية، ما يحرمنا مما لا يقل عن مليار دينار بالعملات الصعبة سنويا".

ومن جهتها، دافعت وزارة الزراعة عن القرار الحكومي، وقال الناطق الاعلامي باسمها نمر حدادين، ان الهدف من القرار "تصويب أوضاع العمال كإجراء اصلاحي في قطاع العمل، لتوحيد رسوم التصاريح والمبالغ الاضافية التي تستوفي من الزيادة"، مبينا انه "سيخصص جزء منها لدعم صندوق التشغيل بهدف التدريب والتأهيل لاشراك الشباب الاردنين الراغبين بالعمل، فيما يذهب جزء من الزيادة لدعم القطاع من خلال دعم صندوق المخاطر الزراعية والتوسع في تغطية مخاطر زراعية اخرى، ودعم مربي الثروة الحيوانية والصادرات الزراعية ومؤسسة الاقراض الزراعي".

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Article
27 February 2017

Jordan and Lebanon: Syrians face significant legal obstacles and discrimination in accessing the job market

Author: Rasha Faek, Al-Fanar Media

Little Hope of Jobs for Syrians in Lebanon and Jordan, 25 February 2017

In Lebanon, Majd Yassin, a 29-year old Syrian with a master’s degree in education from the University of Damascus, managed to find a job two years ago at an international organization concerned with refugee affairs. But she has to work as a volunteer on a temporary contract, getting only a small stipend for her efforts, because the organization has not been able to secure a permit for her. Just to be able to continue to legally live in Lebanon, Yassin was forced to enroll in a university, so that she could get a student residence permit. “This is the only possible residence permit in Lebanon today,” she said. “Work permits can’t be obtained, for they require a Lebanese sponsor and the payment of a large sum of money.” The sponsor has to pay the government to get the work permit, and few Lebanese companies want to take on this difficult, bureaucratic and expensive task. In addition, the aspiring Syrian worker is often forced to make a hefty “under-the-table” payment to the company to secure one … In Jordan, work laws bar foreigners, including Syrians, from working in many professions. The professions in which foreigners can work include construction and agriculture.  Meanwhile, the law lists 18 other fields that cannot be pursued by non-Jordanians, including such jobs as working in a warehouse, in a gas station or as a secretary.

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Report
27 February 2017

Jordan: NGO evaluation reveals weaknesses of international assistance programme to improve economic opportunities for refugees & vulnerable Jordanians

Author: International Rescue Committee

"In Search of Work - Creating Jobs for Syrian Refugees: A Case Study of the Jordan Compact", 22 Feb 2017

...Progress towards improving economic opportunities for refugees and vulnerable Jordanians through implementing the Jordan Compact has been slow and uneven. The Compact is a new type of partnership which perhaps helps to explain some of this. It reflects, in part, the economic, social and structural challenges in the Jordanian context, such as high unemployment rates and a poor investment climate. Importantly, it also reveals weaknesses in the Compact’s design and management as well as opportunities for how the Compact can better recognise the reality of constraints and facts on the ground, including refugees’ experiences with the work permit and business formalisation processes and the specific vulnerabilities women face in search of safe and decent work...

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