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

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Report
5 December 2016

Jordan: Report reveals challenges refugees living outside camps encounter obtaining official documents

Author: International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School (IHRC); Norwegian Refugee Council Jordan (NRC)

Securing Status: Syrian refugees and the documentation of legal status, identity, and family relationships in Jordan, November 2016

Without access to formal channels of income and assistance, refugees without documentation may work illegally to support their families. To work legally in Jordan, refugees must have a work permit; in early 2016 the Government of Jordan committed to providing up to 200,000 work opportunities to Syrians over a three-year period and introduced measures to make it easier for Syrians to obtain work permits. However, only refugees with a new [Ministry of Interior] card (or a passport showing regular entry) are eligible to receive work permits...

A grandfather described his grandsons’ work […] As a result of working without a permit, the second grandson was detained by police and sent to Azraq. The family relied on the grandson to “help to wash and take care of [the disabled father],” so he left Azraq without authorisation. The grandfather said that while this grandson was “afraid to go out,” he sometimes still left the house to find work “for JOD 4 or 5 per job.” While many Syrian refugees work without formal work permits, the risks of illegal work are compounded for refugees who lack documentation; their invisibility to authorities puts them at increased risk of exploitation by employers who take advantage of undocumented refugees’ fears that they will come to the attention of authorities.

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Article
21 November 2016

Lebanon: Work restrictions on Syrian refugees increase unemployment and hardship

Author: Alex Dziadosz, Financial Times

Syrian exiles in Lebanon seek a refuge in work, 22 November 2016

Syrian exiles in Lebanese camps are offered vocational training — but no jobs… Abu Abed, head of one of the [Bekaa Valley] camps, says just over half the men of working age in his camp have found work, and then only irregularly and for low wages. “They get some seasonal work — agriculture, construction. But stable, regular work? The kind of thing you need to make a life? There’s nothing like that.”… of the 4.4m Syrians who have fled into neighbouring Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, many hundreds of thousands have struggled to secure even basic incomes…

In Lebanon, nearly two dozen organisations offer vocational training programmes to Syrian refugees, from large international NGOs to community-based local groups…The reality, however, is that such programmes, while often transformative for those who receive them, are far too small and scattered... Recent ILO analysis puts unemployment rates among Syrian refugees at over 60 per cent in Jordan and 36 per cent in Lebanon … the Lebanese government has also put heavy employment restrictions on Syrians. Technically, Syrians are only allowed to work in three sectors — agriculture, construction and cleaning.

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Item
7 November 2016

Lebanon: Stronger commitment to rights and social justice needed in the Tripoli Special Economic Zone

Author: Ziad Abdel Samad, Arab NGO Network for Development, LinkedIn

Special Economic Zones in Tripoli; Fears and Hopes, 3 November 2016

The law on the establishment of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Tripoli issued on September 5, 2008 identified the role and objectives of the Tripoli SEZ General Authority … [The SEZ] is subject neither to the provisions regulating the work of public institutions nor to oversight from Central Inspection or the Civil Service Board and is only subject to the Audit Court’s supervision… [The SEZ Law leaves some labour rights questions unanswered.] For example, will employers sign contracts with wage-earners and workers that clarify their rights and duties as stipulated by the Lebanese Labour Law? This includes the minimum wage, overtime allowances, registration in all of the branches of social security, the right to organize and establish trade unions, and in particular family allowances and transportation which are rights acquired by workers thanks to their decades-old demand movements.

[Another issue] raised in this context related to transparency and accountability standards and the citizens’ right to obtain information related inter alia to tenders and contracts and several other activities. To what extent will the SEZ provide transparency and accountability mechanisms to see to the investors and companies’ compliance with human rights standards?

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Article
17 October 2016

Jordan: USA removes garment industry from forced labour list

Author: Jordan Times

ILO lauds removal of Jordan from forced labour list, 9 October 2016

The removal of Jordan’s garment sector from the US forced labour list is a milestone for the industry, an official from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said on Sunday. “In 2006, the challenging working conditions had a huge impact on the sector’s growth and the country’s reputation at large. Despite the difficult situation back then, the stakeholders have turned problems into opportunities to increase the level of compliance,” said Tareq Abu Qaoud, programme manager at the ILO’s Better Work Jordan. 

The US Department of Labour (DOL) removed garments produced in Jordan from its 2016 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorisation Act list, as “the incidence of forced labour in the production of garments in Jordan has been significantly reduced”, a US DOL report read, according to an ILO statement… 

Advances must continue to guarantee further improvement, the US DOL said, particularly in light of the sector’s expected expansion as Syrian refugees are integrated into the formal labour market.

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Article
17 October 2016

Syrian crisis: EU ready to step up on partnerships with Lebanon and Jordan

Author: European Council

The Council agreed on the way forward on partnership priorities and compacts with Jordan for the period 2016-2018 and with Lebanon for the period 2016-2020. The partnership priorities will guide the EU’s bilateral relations with the two countries. The compacts are the framework through which the mutual commitments made at the London Conference on “Supporting Syria and The Region Conference” (February 2016) are translated into actions...The compacts focus on strengthening the economic resilience of the host countries, while enhancing economic opportunities for Syrian refugees, through increased protection and access to employment and quality education. This will contribute to provide an appropriate and safe environment for refugees and displaced persons from Syria during their temporary stay in these countries...EU-Jordan partnership priorities are set to include regional stability and security, including counter-terrorism; economic stability, sustainable and knowledge-based growth, quality education and job creation and democratic governance, the rule of law and human rights...Partnership priorities in EU-Lebanon relations for the coming years are set to include: security and countering terrorism, governance and the rule of law, fostering growth and job opportunities, migration and mobility.

 

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Article
16 October 2016

Jordan: Efforts to formalise the work of Syrian waste pickers and the dangers of informality

Author: Olivia Cuthbert, Guardian (UK)

Broken glass and needles: the waste pickers scraping a living at Jordan's landfills, 27 August 2016

While the Jordanian government has gone some way towards easing restrictions on employment for Syrian refugees, the vast majority are still working illegally. Now, a number of organisations in Jordan are looking to formalise the work of waste pickers and harness their role as recyclers...

For the waste pickers at Al Huseyniyat, and others working on streets around Jordan, this would mean stable employment and safer working conditions. At present, children, many of whom look younger than their stated age of 14, face the same dangers as adults in this toxic environment. A few wear cotton gloves found in the rubbish, but most go through the bags with bare hands, exposed to broken glass and needles hidden among the coloured cans, wrappers and rotting organic waste.

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Article
9 August 2016

World Bank: Social assessment for program on "economic opportunities for Jordanians and Syrian refugees"

Program for Results - Economic Opportunities for Jordanians and Syrian Refugees Environmental and Social Systems Assessment (ESSA), 1 August 2016

...The PforR seeks to provide economic opportunities for both Jordanians and Syrians by:

i) Reforming Jordan’s labor market regulations to grant access to Syrian refugee workers to the formal labor market and allowing them to legally contribute to Jordan’s economic activity;  

ii) Improving Jordan’s investment climate through improving predictability of regulations, and reducing red tape, supporting small businesses, and trade facilitation; and

iii) Attracting and retaining investments—both domestic and foreign, especially in manufacturing, in Special Economic Zones that will benefit from preferential access to the EU. The foreign investments would most likely come from: i) the Syrian business diaspora; ii) regional investors and iii) investors targeting the EU market...

...to bolster the social and environment measures in the program and demonstrate the government’s commitment to doing good, the following social and environmental DLI will be introduced: Public disclosure of Better Work Jordan ratings and publish disclosure of major labor and environmental violations. While the Program will utilize existing infrastructure of the SEZs and is providing specific guidance on labor and safety related issues in the PAP, it is paramount that the government demonstrate commitment to making efforts to curb low compliance. Global experience has demonstrated that pressure created by “shaming” through transparency of information has positively influenced increased compliance...

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Article
26 July 2016

Jordan Deal With Donors Means Legal Work for Syria Refugees

Author: Associated Press

Syrian refugee Fawaz al-Jasem used to drop his tools and run when he saw police approaching the farm in northern Jordan where he has been picking vegetables for the past three years.

Now he works without fear of arrest.

He is among some 23,000 Syrians given work permits this year as part of Jordan's promise to the international community to put 50,000 refugees to work legally in 2016 in return for low-interest loans and easier access to European markets...

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Article
24 July 2016

How Refugees Can Strengthen Economies

Author: Ursula Lindsey, Al-Fanar Media

Refugees the world over, along with being considered security threats, are blamed for sapping public resources and stealing jobs. 

But some economists are now turning those assumptions upside down.

Letting refugees die at sea or languish in camps isn’t just morally reprehensible, goes the argument—it is not in anyone’s best economic interest.

Arab countries are at the forefront of the debate over how best to handle refugee flows. “Jordan and Lebanon are actually test cases internationally of whether we can do this better than we have in the past,” says Stefan Dercon, chief economist for the U.K. Department for International Development. Mr. Dercon spoke at the June symposium “For a Better Future for Syrian and Lebanon,” hosted by the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University in Beirut.

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Article
20 July 2016

EU-Jordan trade: rules of origin made simple to boost investment and job creation

Author: EU Neighborhood Info Center

The EU and Jordan reconfirmed their solid partnership, strengthening their relations on political, security, trade and cooperation matters, at the 10th EU-Jordan Association Committee in Amman this week. In the margins of the meeting, a decision was reached to simplify the rules of origin that Jordanian exporters use in their trade with the EU.
 
This measure will allow producers in Jordan to use an alternative, more relaxed set of rules of origin for exports to the EU, provided a number of conditions are met. It will boost investment and create jobs for Jordanians, but also Syrian refugees the country is hosting. It is part of the EU's support to Jordan, including in response to the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on the country and another positive step forward towards the finalisation of the partnership priorities and compact.
 
The new scheme will apply to 52 product groups for ten years. It will cover a wide range of manufactured products and be available to producers in 18 specified industrial areas and development zones which employ a minimum percentage of Syrian refugees.

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