To mark a decade of the Syria Conflict, the Embassy of Sweden in Jordan and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) held yesterday, March 15th, a high-level panel discussion on Syrian refugees' and vulnerable Jordanian host communities' progress and challenges on livelihoods through the Jordan Compact and other commitments over the past 10 years. 

Panelists included senior representatives from the Ministry of Labour, the Greater Amman Municipality, the UN refugee agency - UNHCR, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Sisterhood is Global Institute (SIGI) and Al-Methalieh for Business Development. The panel discussion was held as an official side event to the European Union-hosted Brussels V Conference on “Supporting the future of Syria and the region” and was moderated by the IRC in Jordan. 

With the gravely worsening economic situation of both Syrian refugees and the Jordanian host community, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the panelists discussed the  impact  the Jordan Compact had on economic opportunities for Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanians and what changes in policy could improve these economic inclusion challenges. The panelists also explored ways to improve access to the formal labour market for non-Jordanians as well as concrete modalities of better measuring financial inclusion progress. The panelists further looked into how each of the sectors in Jordan are prioritising female labour force participation and greater access to economic opportunities for other vulnerable groups such as youth across the Kingdom. 

Speaking at the event, Sarra Ghazi, Country Director of IRC in Jordan, said:

“Despite encouraging policy decisions from the Government of Jordan during the last couple of years to promote the right to work and entrepreneurship for refugees, as outlined in IRC’s report ‘A Decade in Search of Work’ from last June 2020, these vulnerable communities continue to face many legal barriers and practical challenges to achieving self-reliance. Their opportunities have been further constrained as a result of the economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, looking at the policy developments since the June report, the IRC welcomes the recent decision from the Government to expand the use of flexible work permits to additional sectors, as well as its extension of Syrian refugees’  grace period to be exempted from work permit fees until the end of 2021."

Also speaking at the event, Sweden’s Ambassador to Jordan, Her Excellency Alexandra Rydmark, stated:

“I welcome the Government of Jordan’s active efforts at encouraging women’s inclusion in the labour market. There is still a long way to go for both Jordanians and Syrian refugees in this regard. The Fifth “Supporting Syria and the Region” Brussels Conference that the EU is hosting at the end of March, is a key opportunity to officially take stock of progress and ensure that mutual commitments for policy reforms on refugees’ access to livelihoods remain at the core of the EU-Jordan partnership. The EU’s 'New Partnership' with the Southern Neighbourhood’ and other financing initiatives in support of Jordan’s economic recovery efforts, are equally excellent opportunities to ensure greater inclusion for refugees in Jordan, with a focus on female refugees.”

The IRC’s Economic Recovery and Development programs in Jordan are designed to build the economic resilience of Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanians across the Kingdom so that they can support their basic needs, as well as increase their capacity to generate future income and live an independent, dignified life. The IRC’s economic programming is working to create synergies with national strategies and align with the Jordan Response Plan (JRP) and the Jordan Compact, especially in light of the deteriorating economic situation in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.