ILO Response to Syrian Refugee Crisis in Jordan

The number of registered Syrian refugees in Jordan currently stands at around 660,330.1 While around 20 percent of Syrian refugees in Jordan currently live in designated camps, the rest have found shelter in cities and rural areas across the country. The capital Amman and the northern governorates of Irbid and Mafraq alone host over three-quarters of the Syrian refugee population in Jordan.

The refugee influx has placed growing pressure on Jordan’s infrastructure and resources, including the country’s already fragile economy and social fabric. The Syrian refugee crisis affected the Jordanian labour market in terms of downward pressure on wages, increase in child labour, displacement effects – especially for lower skilled jobs and migrants.

The ILO Response

As part of the wider United Nations response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Jordan, the ILO has been working hand-in-hand with host countries and development partners to support efforts to increase economic opportunities and employment creation in the region – for both refugees and host communities – through promoting an employment-rich national response to the refugee crisis, embedded in the principles of decent work.

Between 2013-2015, the ILO launched a series of pilot interventions in Jordan to support enhanced access to employment opportunities and livelihoods for refugees and members of the host communities.

ILO Programme of Support to the Jordan Compact

In 2016, Jordan became the first country in the Arab region to facilitate Syrian refugees’ access to the labour market. This milestone was achieved through the signing of the Jordan Compact, which reduced barriers to the legal employment of refugees in the kingdom.

This has led to a number of policy shifts, including easing procedures and waving the fees to obtain work permits in selected sectors and allowing Syrians residing in the camps access to jobs in host communities. Access to skills and vocational training opportunities as well as job-matching services for both Jordanians and Syrians have also been enhanced.

These recent milestones have allowed the ILO, together with international and local partners, to upscale interventions to address the decent work needs of the national population alongside those of refugees. A comprehensive ILO Programme of Support to the Jordan Compact was designed relying on three pillars tackling short-term and long-term challenges of the Jordanian labour market:

(a) improved governance for greater compliance to decent work principles;
(b) private sector support to allow companies to take advantage of the new trade agreement; and
(c) immediate creation of decent jobs for Jordanians and Syrian refugees to ease current conditions.

The ILO Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) 2018-2022 articulates a common commitment to advance decent work in Jordan. These include DWCP Priority 1 “Employment creation contributes to economic and social stability,” DWCP Priority 2 “Support the development of an enabling environment to underpin improved private sector productivity and the creation of decent work,” and DWCP Priority 3 “Support the immediate creation of decent jobs for Syrian refugees and Jordanians to ease current conditions.”

The ILO Programme of Support to the Jordan Compact falls under the DWCP, and matches the objectives of the United Nations Sustainable Development Framework (UNSDF) 2018-2022 commitments to support economic growth, job creation and quality service delivery in Jordan. It directly responds to ongoing labour market challenges exacerbated by the conflict in Syria and builds on the pilot interventions that were initiated between 2013-2015.

The Programme of Support is being implemented jointly with national partners including:
  • Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation
  • Ministry of Labour
  • Ministry of Agriculture
  • Ministry of Education
  • Ministry of Public Work and Housing
  • Ministry of Municipal Affairs
  • Ministry of Industry, Trade and Supply
  • General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions
  • Jordan Chamber of Industry
  • Jordan Construction Contractors Association
  • Vocational Training Corporation
  • National Employment and Training

Key achievements to-date (beginning of 2016-mid 2019):

The ILO’s Programme of Support to the Jordan Compact includes multiple projects, funded by key ILO development partners, including the Federal Republic of Germany, through the German Development Bank (KfW), the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Norway, the United States Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, the European Union, the Government of Australia, World Bank multi-donor trust fund and Ford Foundation.

Since 2016, the ILO’s Programme of Support to the Jordan Compact has reached more than 108,339 direct beneficiaries and an estimated 450,000 indirect beneficiaries- through:
  • FORMALIZATION: 90,000 work permits issued to Syrian workers in the agriculture and construction sectors;
  • SKILLS DEVELOPMENT: 12,300 Jordanians and Syrian refugees benefitted from skills development interventions;
  • CAREER COUNSELING: 18,967 Jordanian and Syrian refugee job seekers registered at Employment Service Centre (ESCs);
  • JOB MATCHING: 11,076 Jordanian and Syrian refugee job seekers referred to job opportunities and 6,113 successfully employed;
  • EMPLOYMENT INTENSIVE INVESTMENTS (EIIP): 5,000 Jordanian and Syrian refugee workers employed in Employment Intensive Infrastructure Projects, resulting in 320,020 working days;
  • SME DEVELOPMENT AND JOINT BUSINESS VENTURES: 86 Jordanian and Syrian refugee beneficiaries supported to launch Joint Business Ventures in the construction sector;
  • PRIVATE SECTOR SUPPORT: 5 companies supported to network with European buyers, access qualified workers, legal advices, enhance knowledge through JCI/CBI export coaching6 and e-learning on the Relaxed Rules of Origin Agreement.

[1] August 2019,

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