Sharing experience and tools on decent work for refugees

The Government of Norway and the ILO partnered to organise a panel discussion on Decent work for refugees: lessons learned and guidance for inclusive labour markets as a side event to the 3rd Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) Preparatory Meeting on September 11th 2019.

News | 07 October 2019
With forced displacement becoming increasingly protracted and complex, the issue of refugee movements continues to dominate policy agendas. The integration of refugees into labour markets has emerged as a critical issue in finding inclusive and sustainable solutions.

Panellists from Norway, Ethiopia, ILO and UNHCR reflected on lessons learned, emerging innovative practices, and challenges drawn from operational experiences. They offered insights from a range of contexts, as well as an overview of recent guidance and tools available to policymakers to strengthen the enabling and protective environment for refugees without displacing or compromising jobs and labour rights of nationals, or migrant workers, or generating unfair competition for existing enterprises.

From Norway, Leila Erdis, Senior Adviser of the Ministry of Education and Research, described her country’s experience in investing in secondary education and skills building for refugees, which resulted in fruitful returns in terms of increasing self-sufficiency and improved social insertion in the long term.

Ethiopia’s experience with its new Refugee Proclamation and the move towards extending labour market access and rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining to refugees was presented by Samuel Addis Alemayehyu, Minister Counsellor of Permanent Mission of Ethiopia to the UN. He emphasised the importance of putting refugees’ skills and interest at the centre of strategies and highlighted that self-reliance should not be an end in itself but a means towards durable solutions.

Senior Specialist in the ILO Labour Migration branch, Héloïse Ruaudel, highlighted the central role of decent work at the intersection between humanitarian assistance and resilience-building development. She shared some lessons learned from ILO’s response to the Syrian crisis, focusing on support to national response mechanisms and existing labour market institutions, the promotion of social dialogue and the transition to formalisation.
From UNHCR, Ziad Ayoubi, Head of Livelihoods and Economic Inclusion Unit stressed how refugee exclusion, encampment and geographical barriers further hamper decent work opportunities for refugees and the importance of understanding local market dynamics and private sector needs to design livelihood strategies for refugees.

Over 50 participants attended this timely event that will build up to this year’s GFMD Summit meeting in Quito in November, in which mixed movements and social and economic inclusion have been given due focus by the Ecuadorian chairmanship. It is also highly relevant in preparation for the Global Refugee Forum in December, where stronger and broader partnerships and the importance of international responsibility sharing will be promoted to further the access to decent work, education and protection for refugees and host communities.

The event was moderated by Nick Grisewood, Global Programme Manager of the PROSPECTS Partnership Programme on Inclusive Jobs and Education for Host Communities, Refugees and other Forcibly Displaced Person in the ILO and Magnus Andersen, First Secretary to the Permanent Mission of Norway to the UN provided opening and concluding remarks