Norwegian Prime Minister meets Syrian refugees, ILO officials to examine impact of employment on refugees in Jordan

The meeting was part of a two-day visit to Jordan by Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg.

Press release | 21 October 2019
Amman, Jordan (ILO News) Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg met with Syrian refugees and ILO officials in Amman on Sunday (October 20) to examine some of the challenges and opportunities facing refugees in Jordan’s labour market.

The Minister, who is on a two-day visit to Jordan, was briefed on employment services and initiatives provided by the ILO as part of the agency’s Programme of Support to the Jordan Compact to boost economic growth and decent job creation for refugees and members of their host community. The Programme of Support is implemented through multiple projects funded by development partners, including Norway.

The visit included a meeting with Askareyah, a Syrian refugee who was recently supported by the ILO through one of its employment service centres. The centre helped the mother-of-six enrol in an on-the-job training programme and find employment in Jerash Garments and Fashions Manufacturing Company, a garment factory situated in Amman’s industrial area of Sahab. It also supported Askareyah in receiving social security coverage and transportation to her place of work and back.

During a visit to Askareyah’s home, the Prime Minister heard about the family’s experience in accessing formal employment and the impact regular income has on refugees living in host countries.

“I think it is important for everybody to have a job, especially when you are in a crisis and security situation that brought you to become a refugee,” said Prime Minister Solberg. “Finding some stability in your life is important and of course earning your own money. We (…) all like to contribute, not just get benefits and that gives a lot more self-respect and gives the family a much better way of handling their lives.”

One of the ILO’s founding Member States, Norway has a long-standing partnership with the ILO and is one of the agency’s key donors, supporting its response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Jordan.

Between 2016 and 2018, the ILO, through support from the Government of Norway, implemented interventions which focused on boosting decent jobs through green works and labour-intensive employment in Jordan’s agriculture and forestry sector. Over 3,000 Jordanian and Syrian women and men were able to access short-term decent employment through the programme, which also supported farmers to enhance their overall productivity by improving their local infrastructure through the use of employment-intensive methods. 

Most recently, Norway partnered with the ILO to implement a project in the Jordanian areas of Irbid, Mafraq and the Jordan valley, aimed at reducing the incidence of child labour among Syrian refugees and host community members in the agriculture sector. This includes initiatives to withdraw children from child labour, provide them with support to access education, and assist their families with career counselling and employment opportunities that contribute to creating decent work for adults.

“We are very honoured by the Prime Minister’s visit,” said Maha Kattaa, the ILO's Regional Resilience and Crisis Response Specialist. “It shows how the international community looks at the resilience of Syrian refugees in Jordan and finding better ways to support them, mainly women refugees who often need support to learn new skills and find work which is suitable for them and which takes into account their family-responsibilities."

Through its Programme of Support to the Jordan Compact, the ILO has set up a network of 13 employment service centres across Jordan in close partnership with the Ministry of Labour, to help connect Jordanian and Syrian job seekers with employers. Key employment support in recent years has also included helping Syrian refugees to obtain work permits, supporting job-seekers and workers of both nationality with skills development and certification, and supporting income-generating activities and the immediate creation of jobs. The Programme of Support has also been collaborating with the private sector to enhance economic growth and export, including access to EU markets under the 2016 EU Rules of Origin trade agreement.