Amman

- Syrian refugee Youssef Al-Halabi spends 12 hours of his day working in a fast food restaurant in the Jordanian capital, Amman, and receives a monthly wage of 460 dinars (648 dollars) to support his family of seven.

Al-Halabi, 29, began working in the restaurant sector two years ago, after obtaining a work permit for Syrian refugees in Jordan. However, working in restaurants is "physically tiring, and the duration of work is long, but its financial returns to workers are better than other sectors," says Al-Halabi. Al Jazeera Net.

About 1.3 million Syrian refugees have lived in Jordan since 2012, after fleeing to escape killing and destruction during the Syrian crisis. Refugees have flocked to the territory of the Kingdom of Jordan, including 670,000 refugees registered on the lists of the High Commissioner for Refugees, the Jordan office.

low wages

Al-Halabi is better off than the 34-year-old Syrian refugee Mustafa Al-Hourani, who has been working in a spinning and weaving factory for three years, after obtaining a work permit for Syrian refugees.

Hourani told Al Jazeera Net that working in carpet factories is "comfortable, as the worker enjoys vacations, holidays, health insurance, social security and other advantages."

Despite these advantages, al-Hourani complains about low wages.

"The Syrian worker receives a monthly wage of 300 dinars (423 dollars), in exchange for 10 working hours, and it barely suffices the basic requirements of life, such as rent for the house, electricity, water, medicine, food, and other bills," he said.

In 2016, Jordan began granting Syrian refugees permits to work in the Jordanian local market, within the professions that expatriate and non-Jordanian workers are allowed to work in, in response to Jordan's international obligations according to the London Conference held in 2016.

The sectors in which Syrian refugees work include agricultural, industrial, and food establishments, services and the construction sector, and among the professions that foreign workers are allowed to work in, without allowing them to work in professions closed to Jordanians only.

Syrian refugees work in a sewing workshop after obtaining work permits (Al-Jazeera)

Record

The Ministry of Labor has provided 283,000 work permits for Syrian refugees to work in the local market from 2016 until the end of last year 2021. The Syrian refugee receives a work permit for a symbolic fee of 10 dinars (14 dollars), compared to migrant workers of other nationalities.

The past year witnessed a steady increase in the number of permits granted to Syrian refugees;

It reached 62,000 permits, which is a record number of permits submitted to them since they were allowed to work in the local market, up from the year before 2020, which recorded 38,000 permits, according to the statistics of the Ministry of Labor.

Among those permits, 31,000 permits known as "flexible work permits", which allow the worker to move between similar jobs in the same sector, and between employers and across the governorates of the Kingdom, an additional advantage that is not allowed for expatriate workers of other nationalities.

Between refugees and Jordanians

Under the permits, a Syrian refugee can work in specific professions for expatriate workers, under certain conditions, with the aim of balancing between reducing the high unemployment rates among Jordanians and improving the living conditions of refugees, according to a source in the Ministry of Labor.

The source added - to Al Jazeera Net - that the ministry forces employers of Syrian refugees to employ Jordanians in certain proportions, so establishments are not allowed to employ Syrian refugees only without Jordanians, in addition to the fact that there are many professions closed to expatriate workers, to provide job opportunities for Jordanians.

The Ministry of Labor conducts inspection tours of various economic establishments to follow up the conditions of workers and expatriate workers. If migrant workers from Syrian refugees are caught without permits, the owners of the violating facility will be punished. As for migrant workers of other nationalities, the violating worker is deported to his country, according to the Ministry of Labor.

growing demand

Rania Bakir, assistant director of the Livelihoods and Economic Integration Department at the UNHCR in Amman, said that there is an "increase in the demand of Syrian refugees to obtain work permits that entitle them to work legally with employers."

She added - to Al Jazeera Net - that this contributed to improving their living conditions and facilitating a decent livelihood for them, as the work permit provides them with social and legal protection in the work environment, and gives them labor, health and medical rights in the event of work injuries, in addition to their enjoyment of their financial and labor rights in the Social Security Institution. .

During the past two years, the work sectors in Jordan witnessed negative effects due to the Corona pandemic and the subsequent closures, which led to the loss of about 140,000 employees to their jobs, and unemployment rates to 24%, and the effects of the pandemic affected Syrian refugees.

However, the pandemic crisis showed a bright side, represented in the contribution of Syrian refugees - who have medical and health qualifications - to providing health care services for Corona patients, after the Jordanian authorities allowed them to work in the health sector within a specific framework, according to the UNHCR.

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