The International Labour Organisation (ILO) and UNHCR this week opened the first centre for employment at the Azraq refugee camp, aimed at facilitating access for the camp’s population to official work opportunities in Jordan.
Launched under the patronage of Labour Minister Ali Ghezawi with the support of the Dutch government, the Azraq Centre for Employment (ACE) will allow refugees to obtain a one month leave and work permit to pursue employment opportunities across the Kingdom, in addition to counselling services, information on labour rights, training opportunities and job matching services.
The new job facility will also support the implementation of the Jordan Compact Programme, aimed at creating jobs for a total of 200,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan.
At the event, Ministry of Labour Secretary General Hani Khleifat thanked all partners “for their efforts to make this employment centre possible”, expressing hopes “for all Syrian refugees to find opportunities”.
“Together with our partners, the Ministry of Labour has been exerting efforts to facilitate the integration of refugees into the labour market through the exemption of work permit and medical report fees,” the secretary continued, noting that the Labour Ministry has issued over 87,000 work permits for Syrian refugees in Jordan since 2016.
In addition, Khleifat highlighted the requirement for companies to employ Syrians as 15 per cent of their total workforce as part of the 2016 EU relaxed rules of origin for Jordanian exports to Europe, stressing that “the ministry is taking all the necessary measures to verify the number of Syrians employed in each factory”.
The inauguration was also attended by Dutch Ambassador to Jordan Barbara Joziasse, who noted that “the government of the Netherlands is focused on supporting the private sector to enable them to create more work opportunities, while training job seekers in order to foster economic growth in Jordan”.
“This centre is an example of the ways in which this goal can be achieved,” the ambassador stated, adding that “we would like to thank the Ministry of Labour for their openness to receive more employees into the Jordanian labour market”.
For his part, ILO Country Coordinator Patrick Daru expressed his gratitude for all the “technical support” received in the opening, thanking the Syrian Refugee Affairs Directorate for allowing refugees outside the camp to pursue a career.
Maha Kattaa, ILO response coordinator for the Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan, added that “the fact that the work permits also serve as an authorisation to leave the camp and seek work is a major development for refugees in the remote Azraq camp”, stressing that “the refugees are in dire need of jobs, and the services ACE will provide will help in restoring their livelihoods and their capacity for self-reliance”.
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UNHCR Assistant Representative for Protection Alia Khatar-Williams was also present at the launch, highlighting that “this initiative will enhance the livelihoods of Syrian refugees supporting the economic growth of the Kingdom”.
“I would like to thank the Ministry of Labour for opening the way for Syrian refugees to work,” Khatar-Williams continued, expressing that “a work permit is not only a job opportunity, but a chance to regain dignity and stability”.
The launch of the employment centre was accompanied by the first in a series of job fairs to be held at the camp, which gathered a total of 24 companies providing refugees with over 850 job opportunities in the manufacturing, agriculture and service sectors.
By Ana Ibáñez Prieto
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