Jordan’s first job centre for Syrian refugees opens in Zaatari camp

Following the Jordanian government’s decision to allow Syrian refugees to obtain work permits, a new job centre has opened at the country’s largest refugee camp to help the people living there access the local labour market.

Press release | 21 August 2017
ZAATARI, Jordan (ILO News) – The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR inaugurated the first employment office inside a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. The Zaatari Office for Employment, set up in coordination with the Government of Jordan, will facilitate access to formal work opportunities across Jordan for refugees living in the camp.

Earlier this year, the Government of Jordan announced that Syrian refugees living in camps were entitled to obtain work permits and be employed in urban areas. Zaatari’s office forms part of efforts to bring employment services closer to refugees in camps. So far, over 800 refugees in Zaatari camp have already benefited from the presence of the job centre by registering their work permits in exchange for one-month leave permits. As part of this, over 350 work permits for the agricultural sector have been issued by the office.

A specific data base programmed by UNHCR will record the work permits and facilitate the movement of the workers in and out of the camp, helping them make the most of their new jobs. The facility will also allow refugees to receive employment advice, counselling and information from ILO officials located in the office daily. The centre will host job fairs and provide job matching services to bring employers and refugees together. A second office is now under construction in Azraq camp to bring job opportunities closer to its residents.

“The EU-supported centre will mean refugee workers now have a clear address to resort to when searching for jobs and applying for work permits, where they can receive all necessary information and benefit from expert support,” said Maha Kattaa, ILO Response Coordinator for the Syria Refugee Crisis in Jordan. “This is a ground-breaking development for the region, and the ILO, with generous support from the EU, will expand this service to reach more refugees in Jordan who need our help,” Kattaa added.

The new job facility is part of an ILO project funded by the European Union (EU) and supports the implementation of the agreement between the EU and Jordan to facilitate access to EU markets by helping Jordanian employers recruit the portion of Syrian labour required in it. The employment office at Zaatari camp is the first of a wider network of employment offices the ILO and the Ministry of Labour plan to set up, to provide employment services for local Jordanians and Syrian refugees.

“I am deeply thankful to the Government of Jordan for all the important steps taken in the past year to facilitate access to work for Syrian refugees”, said UNHCR Representative to Jordan Stefano Severe. “I am confident that having an increased number of Syrians entering the labour market will positively impact the local economy and bring stability to refugee families. But much more needs still to be done. UNHCR will continue working on increasing the presence of women in the labour force and help expand employment opportunities.”

Following the London Conference on the Syria crisis in early 2016, the Government of Jordan waived the fees required to obtain a work permit for Syrian refugees in a number of occupations open to foreign workers and simplified the documentation requirements. These measures have encouraged employers to regularize their workers resulting in nearly 60,000 work permits being issued and renewed to Syrian refugees in Jordan to date.

For more information please contact:

International Labour Organization (ILO):
Maha Kattaa, Response Coordinator for the Syria Refugee Crisis in Jordan,, +962 79 057 3957

UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR):
Marwa Hashem, Zaatari External Relations,, +962 79 0049824
Mohammad Hawari, External Relations,, +962 79 895 6781