Syrian refugees have lived through almost 10 years of displacement, a situation which is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. At this uncertain juncture, with economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever there is a critical need for supporting livelihoods and enhancing prospects for durable solutions in both Jordan and Lebanon. This report builds on the International Rescue Committee’s previous reports "In Search of Work" and "Still In Search of Work", which reviewed progress on livelihoods commitments made by host and donor countries through the Jordan Compact from 2016 to mid 2018. This third update includes a review of the livelihoods situation for refugees and host communities in Lebanon. The briefing draws on new evidence and emerging research findings on how refugees are managing their financial lives and analyses the impact of policy decisions made in both countries on livelihood opportunities.

Both Jordan and Lebanon have received substantial financial support from the international community under Compact agreements since 2016 to boost their economies and create job opportunities for host communities and Syrian refugees. Global support has continued since then but the emphasis on supporting refugees has weakened.

Investments and policies intended to lead to job creation have had a very limited effect. Refugees continue to face significant legal barriers to access jobs in both countries. Their opportunities are constrained further by the COVID-19 crisis.

The IRC recommends that the international community:

  • Fund NGOs to address immediate basic needs and enhance long term economic recovery and refugee self-reliance in Jordan and Lebanon, including immediate and long term support for entrepreneurs.
  • Reaffirm political commitment to both Compacts, continuing to link financial support to further national policy reforms.
  • Define next steps for the renewal of Compact agreements, including an effective independent monitoring system based on quantitative and qualitative indicators. The fourth “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region” Conference is one of the key upcoming opportunities to do so.

National policy reforms in Jordan and Lebanon should:

  • Expand access to decent work for refugees regardless of their nationality through lifting regulatory barriers.
  • Expand opportunities for entrepreneurship and simplify business registration procedures and documentation requirements.
  • Promote women’s economic empowerment by lifting barriers to work and entrepreneurship women face.

Our March 2021 update gives an overview of policy changes implemented in Jordan to expand access to economic opportunities for Syrian refugees since June 2020.