Crisis migration

Fragility, conflict and disaster are the main drivers of forced displacement. Unresolved conflicts and on-going fragility in many countries, together with a lack of solutions over the years has led to protracted displacement for increasing numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Displacement is disruptive to peoples’ employment and livelihood prospects. A range of factors, such as the socio-economic conditions of the host country, legislation and policies around the protection of refugees and the right to work, as well as other practical issues mediate people’ capacity to access the labour market and decent jobs.

In host countries, migrant and refugee workers are susceptible to decent work deficits, as they are often concentrated in low-skilled informal employment or under-regulated sectors, characterized by precarious conditions.

Situations of fragility or crisis in host countries can also influence refugees’ and migrant workers’ experiences, potentially increasing discriminatory treatment. This can lead at times to unwarranted job loss or expulsion, regardless of migrants’ legal status.

ILO Response

The ILO has engaged in labour aspects of refugee response since its inception in 1919.  In recent years, in response to the rising scale and duration of forced displacement, strategies have increasingly focused on ensuring access to decent work and livelihoods for both refugees and host communities.

The ILO’s mandate, standards, and unique tripartite structure, as well as its growing operational experience in contributing to refugee response, enable it to guide its constituents and other partners in their efforts to promote decent work for refugees.

Its work in this area is grounded in the ILO Guiding Principles on the Access of Refugees and Other Forcibly Displaced Persons to the Labour Market (2016),  together with the Employment and Decent Work for Peace and Resilience Recommendation, 2017 (No. 205), its providing a comprehensive rights-based framework for action.

From an operational perspective, since 2013, the ILO has stepped up its interventions to support refugees’ access to decent work in the wake of the Syrian refugee response. Recent contexts where the ILO have been most active are Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, the Horn and North Africa, and is now starting its response to the crisis in Venezuela.

The ILO is also engaging with the dynamics of movements of migrants and refugees and the differential effects that labour regulations and policies can have on migrant workers and refugees, in particular on their access to the labour markets and work conditions.  

Taking a holistic approach that considers both the supply and demand sides of labour markets and working closely with governments, workers and employers organizations, recent ILO’s interventions have involve a combination of :
  1. Strengthening policy and regulatory frameworks around enabling access to formal labour markets and decent work for refugees.
  2. Interventions designed to create jobs and facilitate formalization.
  3. Strengthening employability of refugees and host communities, e.g. through skills development and recognition.