NEWS | UNHCR Says Jordan Can Serve as Model to Get Refugees into Manufacturing
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NEWS | UNHCR Says Jordan Can Serve as Model to Get Refugees into Manufacturing

The UN´s refugee agency, the UNCHR, says up to 7,000 Syrian refugees are now in registered manufacturing jobs in the country, after taking advantage of work permits.

The scheme, which was part of a deal agreed between Jordan and the European Union in February 2016, is designed to get refugees into formal jobs and protect their labor rights.

In return, Jordanian manufacturers that employ Syrian refugees to make up 15 percent of their workforce will pay little or no duties on most of their exports to the EU for the next 10 years.

Laura Buffoni, Senior Livelihoods Officer at UNHCR Jordan says:

"The presence of refugees can definitely become an asset. It doesn´t have to replace in total the migrant population but by attracting more foreign investment and by expanding the industrial sector, more jobs can be created for Jordanians and Syrians alike. So, this is a model that can work in other refugee-hosting countries."

To date, the UNHCR has issued 40,500 work permits to Syrian refugees, but still faces challenges in rolling the scheme out, especially given the tendency for refugees to work in informal sectors across the world.

Nour Eddin Al-Alaiwe, a Syrian refugee, and employee at Al Fyhaa Plastic Industries says the ability to work has transformed life for him and his family: 

"For me, to have a job means that I exist. It means I am able to be self-sufficient. As far as my family is concerned, the fact that I have a job means I am able to provide for them all the things they have been deprived of as result of becoming refugees - like healthcare, education, and accommodation."

Refugees may also be able to provide skilled labor as some parts of the world face workforce shortages. Fares Hamo is a Syrian refugee who worked for over a decade in manufacturing before fleeing the war in Syria:

"[This jobs has given me]..stability, security, comfort, and coexistence. We´ve settled down here now, thank God, and living and working with the Jordanian people is very nice. The Jordanians are very polite, respectful and are very easy going. We did not feel estranged, thank God, like the majority of the refugees. We are living, thank God."

With 21.3 million refugees registered worldwide, the UNHCR believes the Jordanian model could be replicated in other countries.

The news comes ahead of the first-ever Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit that will be held in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi later this month.

The Summit from the 27th - 30th March will bring together business and government leaders to discuss the future of manufacturing and how it will shape the 21 century.

Content provided by Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit, via Reuters.