ILO Response: Syrian Refugee Crisis

© Tabitha Ross/ILO


The Syrian refugee crisis embodies one of the largest and most protracted and complex humanitarian emergencies of modern times. Since 2011, the bulk of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria have found refuge among host communities in neighbouring states. Among the Arab States hosting Syrian refugees, Jordan and Lebanon already had to contend with difficult socioeconomic conditions before the Syrian crisis, particularly in communities where refugees have now settled.

Host communities in Jordan and Lebanon now face a myriad of socioeconomic pressures stemming from the refugee crisis, including:
  • An increase in labour supply which results in increased employment competition as well as downward pressure on wages, particularly among low-income and low productivity jobs;
  • a rise in market demand which exerts upward pressure on consumer goods;
  • a decrease in access and quality of public services including utilities, infrastructure, healthcare and education.
  • an increase in child labour among refugees and host community residents, including the worst forms of child labour; and
  • rising social tensions and lower social cohesion among refugees and host community residents.

The ILO Response

As the Syrian refugee crisis continues, the evolving nature of the crisis necessitates a response that encompasses humanitarian and development interventions which provide access to livelihoods and decent employment. As part of the wider UN-response to the refugee crisis, the ILO Regional Office for the Arab States has adopted a cross-cutting development-focused strategy in Lebanon and Jordan which supports both refugees and host community residents in order to preserve social and economic stability as well as realise the rights of both to decent work and social justice.

As such, the ILO strategy builds on existing country programmes in both Lebanon and Jordan to implement country-specific interventions that focus on the following areas of response to:
  • Build the resilience of host communities in order to facilitate access to employment and livelihood opportunities;
  • strengthen institutional capacity and coordination mechanisms at local, regional and national levels to combat unacceptable forms of work with a focus on child labour; and
  • support policy development to ensure an employment-rich national response, embedded in the principles of decent work.

What's new

  1. Jordan Minister of Public Works and Housing visits road maintenance works taking place under ILO project

    29 June 2017

    The works are part of an ILO project which works to improve the living conditions of Syrian refugees and Jordanians through increased employment and improved infrastructure.

  2. Syrian refugees in Jordan welcome work permits, but challenges persist

    28 June 2017

    New ILO study, prepared in collaboration with UNHCR, looks at the impact of work permits provided to Syrian refugees in Jordan that has resulted in thousands of them formally joining the Jordanian workforce.

  3. Video: Syrian refugees embrace work permits, but some worries remain

    28 June 2017

    This video examines some of the challenges and opportunities faced by Syrians obtaining work permits in Jordan which will give the majority of Syrian refugee workers a sense of stability and security, yet more efforts were needed to improve their overall working conditions.