Syrian influx squeezing Jordan's economy with 160,000 working illegally in the Kingdom
The Labour Ministry on Sunday said that around 160,000 Syrians were working in the Kingdom without the proper documentation, posing a challenge to strategic plans to combat unemployment among young Jordanians.
The ministry is currently working on identifying the impact of Syrian refugees on the labour sector after the number of Syrians working illegally reached “alarming levels”, Labour Minister Nidal Katamine said.
Katamine told The Jordan Times that the ministry signed an agreement with the University of Jordan’s Centre for Strategic Studies, under which the latter will conduct a study on Syrian refugees and their social impact in the Kingdom.
“The study aims to highlight the repercussions of the presence of Syrian refugees on society, national income and the labour sector,” the minister said.
This procedure, he noted, falls within the ministry’s strategic planning to identify the exact number of Syrians working in the local market and how they affect the employment of Jordanians.
Jordan is currently hosting over 450,000 Syrian refugees.
The ministry’s director of policies and strategic planning, Mousa Khalaf, said the study aims to assist the ministry in drawing up policies and plans to address the rising number of Syrian refugees taking up jobs in the local market.
“We don’t have an accurate figure on how many Syrians are working in the Kingdom without work permits,” Khalaf said.
“It is not clear how or when the Syrian crisis will be over, but in the meantime, the working refugees are adding an extra burden to the ministry’s plans to streamline the labour market and implement labour regulations,” he noted.
In previous statements, Katamine said Syrian refugees have started having a “negative impact on society”, particularly among the unemployed, who are beginning to perceive Syrians as taking their job opportunities.
At the time, he stressed that the ministry would take countermeasures to ensure that the priority in employment goes for unemployed Jordanians, adding that the measures will be implemented in a balanced manner that does not negatively affect the business sector.
The Ministry of Labour is currently leading a campaign to repatriate guest labourers working illegally in the Kingdom.
Within the crackdown, 435 workers of different nationalities were found working illegally in the Kingdom during the first four days of the campaign, launched last week, the ministry said on Saturday.
The campaign was implemented following a 60-day grace period, which ended on March 7.
Katamine has estimated the number of illegal workers in Jordan at around 700,000 labourers of different nationalities.