ILO Response to Syrian Refugee Crisis in Jordan


By January 2016, the number of registered Syrian refugees in Jordan had exceeded 630,000, around 10 percent of Jordan’s native resident population.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 play host to over three-quarters of the Syrian refugee population in Jordan.2  

The refugee influx has also placed growing pressure on Jordan’s infrastructure and resources, including the country’s already fragile economy and social fabric. The labour market effects of the Syrian refugee crisis on Jordan range from a fall in average wage levels, lower employment opportunities and harsh working conditions, to rising child labour and an expansion of the informal labour market.3  

The ILO Response

As part of the wider United Nations response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Jordan, the ILO initiated a series of pilot projects in 2013 to support enhanced access to employment opportunities and livelihoods in host communities. Accordingly, the ILO has been active in on four areas of grassroots intervention in the Marfaq and Irbid host communities to:
  • Develop value chains in the tomatoes and olive sectors of the Marfaq and Irbid host communities through value chain analysis, awareness raising, market studies and the organization of events to promote local products. Both sectors have increased production since ILO interventions were launched.
  • Facilitate public-private sector dialogue to foster an enabling business environment in the Marfaq and Irbid host communities through identification of business development bottlenecks that limit the business growth and job creation potential in local enterprises. Since ILO intervention, public and private sector stakeholders have agreed on an action plan to foster an enabling business environment.
  • Build organisational capacity for employment services through the establishment of Local Employment Committees to share information on employment opportunities and identify the training needs of job seekers.
  • Build local capacity to support business start-ups and expansion through the training of facilitators on the ILO’s Get Ahead for Women in Enterprise tool and a basic business-training programme tailored for women in Zaatari refugee camp. So far Get Ahead trainers have trained 150 young females in host communities.
At the national policy level, the ILO has worked to:
  • Chair the livelihood/employment task team as part of the Jordan Response Platform for the Syria Crisis;
  • conduct a study on the implications of the Syrian refugees on the Jordanian Labour Market;
  • conduct two assessments on child labour in the agriculture and urban informal sectors; and
  • provide technical support to the Labour Inspectorate at the Ministry of Labour on its inspection strategy and referral processes related to working Syrian children as well as informal labour.
In 2017, the ILO interventions will continue on the basis of the following components:

Component 1: Support policy dialogue and development to identify labour market solutions that build the resilience of host communities and Syrian refugees

Based on ILO research into the labour market effects of the Syrian refugee crisis on Jordan, the ILO works with its partners on policy dialogue and recommendations to implement lasting solutions. As part of the ILO’s work, the Organization chairs inter-agency task team meetings as part of the Jordan Response Platform for the Syrian refugee crisis and conducts periodic assessments on the labour market effects of the crisis, including those related to child labour and labour market informality.

Component 2: Develop the capacity of local stakeholders in host communities to implement strategies for accelerating job-rich economic growth

At present, ILO assists local committees to take the lead on consultations in local economic development, including employment creation strategies. As part of this component, the ILO builds the capacity of local economic development committees to bolster home-grown socioeconomic development plans and improve employment services for host community residents and refugees.

Component 3: Improve the value chains and support the creation of employment opportunities in host communities, particularly among the country’s youth and women

The ILO is engaged in support to the development of job-rich agricultural value chains in key sectors identified by evidence-based research and local consultations. In line with the ILO’s Local Economic Development strategy, this component promotes sound agricultural practices to improve farmers’ access to productive assets and marketing information as well as identify quick-win and labour intensive projects that create job opportunities, particularly among women and the youth.

[1] UNHCR. 2016. Syrian Regional Refugee Response Inter-Agency Information Sharing Portal. Available at
Estimates based on UNHCR statistics of Syrian refugees in Jordan  and Department of Statistics in Jordan - Population Statistics for 2011
[3] These include the preliminary study of impacts on the labour market conducted by ILO (ILO, 2014), the joint needs assessment review of the impact of the Syrian crisis on Jordan conducted by the Government of Jordan in collaboration with UNDP and the Jordan Response Platform to the Syria Crisis (JRPSC) in November 2013 (UNDP/JRPSC 2013), and the ILO/FAFO/Department of Statistics in Jordan entitled Implications of the Influx of Syrian Refugees on the Jordanian Labor Market (Unpublished).  

What's new

  1. Success is sweet for “Determined Women” from Jordan and Syria

    11 July 2019

    A group of Syrian and Jordanian women who received ILO support to set up a joint business venture producing and selling sweets and other foods, have found success.

  2. Training trainers to promote cooperation development in Jordan’s agriculture sector

    25 June 2019

    An ILO “training of trainers” workshop strengthens the role of cooperatives in advancing decent work for Jordanian workers and Syrian refugees in Jordan’s agricultural sector.

  3. World Day Against Child Labour sheds light on working children in Jordan’s agricultural sector

    12 June 2019

    ILO Jordan holds events for children working on farms to highlight importance of education on the occasion of World Day Against Child Labour.