Jordan issues new work permits to Syrian refugees

Jordan becomes first Arab nation to issue new work permits to Syrian refugees
2 min read
10 August, 2017
Jordan became the first Arab country to issue Syrian refugees with a new type of work permit that opens up the growing construction sector, the UN said on Wednesday.
More than one million refugees live in Jordan, according to authorities [AFP]
Jordan became the first Arab country to begin issuing a new type of work permit to Syrian refugees, the United Nations labour agency said on Wednesday.

Work permits for refugees used to be tied to specific employers who applied on behalf of workers to fill specific positions, the International Labor Organisation (ILO) said, but refugees can now apply to take part in roles in the busy building industry.

“The construction sector has a significant number of people working informally – without the necessary paperwork – which didn’t give them the proper protection for payment and possible employer abuse,” said Elias Jourdi, a shelter specialist for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), an international aid agency.

According to UN figures, more than 660,000 refugees are registered in Jordan however, the authorities suggest that there are more than one million Syrians in the country which is home to the largest refugee camp in the word.

Last year, the European Union relaxed trade rules with Jordan in return for it letting thousands of Syrian refugees work in its companies and get work permits, but the new permits are expected to provide a better standard of living, as well as protection.

“They are able to work anywhere in the kingdom and they will be able to access better jobs and therefore better income and provide better for their family,” Jourdi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Earlier this year, the Jordanian government agreed to provide work permits for more Syrian workers to help reduce families' reliance on child labour.

In the past year, the limit on annual work permits for Syrians was increased to 200,000, but only a fraction of that number – 40,000 – were actually issued.