Panel 3B

Managing the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey

16.15 – 18.15
Chair: Saskia van Genugten, Emirates Diplomatic Academy

 Non-Food Item Manufacturing and Employment in Protracted Conflict

Nicole Malick, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, NRS International

Over the past five years, 655,314 Syrians have sought refuge in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Many arrived to Jordan with very few personal possessions. Humanitarian assistance including non-food items (NFIs) are distributed to ease the suffering. The NFIs are sourced from varying international suppliers by the United Nations and non-governmental organizations and include family tents, tarpaulins, blankets, jerry cans, sleeping mats and kitchen sets. In the first half of 2016, over 946,321 NFI kits were distributed. Jordan’s 2017-2019 Response Plan recognizes the investment in NFIs for new arrivals, replenishments, and in the infrastructure required for their distribution, whilst striving for more cost-effective alternatives to the current distribution infrastructure.  Once basic needs of food and shelter are met, refugees want to restart their lives and regain economic independence.  Initially in Jordan, Syrian refugees were not granted permission to work and many found employment in the informal sector. In early 2016, Syrians were granted the right to work but only in certain sectors and in special designated zones. To date, many refugees still remain unemployed and dependent on humanitarian assistance for their daily survival. This paper examines the nexus of NFI demands and employment needs through the creation of localized NFI manufacturing which simultaneously provides jobs and streamline distribution channels.  It will examine both the opportunities and hurdles facing localization, including quality control, taxation, logistics, cost effectiveness, labor rights, and procurement policy, of NFI manufacturing in Jordan and provides recommendations to policy makers, civil society and governments.

The Politics of Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis: The Case of Lebanon’s Municipalities

Billie Jeanne Brownlee, University of Exeter

The outbreak of the armed conflict in Syria in 2011 has resulted in one of the largest refugee crises since World War II, leaving more than 500,000 people dead, causing extreme violence, large scale displacement, , radicalisation and territorial fragmentation. The UN Commissioner for Refugees described it as “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era”. The Syrian refugee crisis is not simply putting at risk the lives of those fleeing the conflict but it is also putting to test the responses of the host countries. The effects of the Syrian conflict and the resultant refugee crisis have had hard reaching consequences in Lebanon. Out of 4.4 million inhabitants, its territory is currently hosting around 1.2 million refugees from Syria, 6000 Iraqi refugees and nearly 450.000 refugees from Palestine. The refugee crisis has created in Lebanon another tragedy manifesting itself in an upsurge of poverty and unemployment, disruption of social services, growing sectarian divides and frustration towards central authorities. Based on data collected through extensive fieldwork and interviews, this paper provides a state of the art assessment of the protracted displacement crisis in Lebanon and assesses the micro-politics of response to the refugee crisis. By focusing on the role that local authorities play in the refugee crisis in Lebanon and contextualising it with other protracted international displacement crises, this paper provides a new understanding of how to localise the response, transforming local authorities and the territory into catalysts for change.

Temporary Permanence in Jordan and Turkey: Enabling Dignified and Productive Livelihoods for Syrian Refugees

Lorraine Charles, Pale Blue Dot Life, University of Exeter and Saskia van Genugten, Emirates Diplomatic Academy

Both Turkey and Jordan have begun to experiment with labour market integration of Syrian refugees. This development can be seen as part of a paradigm shift in which host countries are starting to approach Syrian refugees less from a ‘temporary and humanitarian’ perspective and increasingly seek more ‘developmental and semi-permanent’ solutions. The drivers of this change includes the acknowledgment of the protracted nature of the Syrian crisis and the unsustainability of providing social protection (education, health care) to large numbers of Syrians without getting much state revenues in return (tax, contributions to economic growth). Increasing self-reliance is becoming particularly critical in the context of insufficient funding from the international community and the fact that, given political developments in key donor states, the international community increasingly seeks ‘solutions in the region’. This paper discusses the current state of employment and employability of Syrian refugees in Jordan and Turkey, and assesses the policy trends that increasingly aim at enabling dignified and productive livelihoods for refugees in these countries. The paper concludes with a set of policy recommendations.

Download Paper (Charles and van Genugten)

Preserving the Status Quo: Understanding Jordan’s Syrian Refugee Policy

Ali Ali, Oxford University, Refugee Studies Centre

This paper explains Jordan’s Syrian refugee policy since 2011, arguing that it is informed by logics of securitization, rent-seeking and status quo preservation. Jordan hosts 625,000 registered Syrian refugees, and claims to have 1.2 million Syrians in total as of 2015. Jordan’s policy was initially characterized by open borders, but a resistance to allowing their formal participation in the labour market with high unemployment. The policy has changed: the border is closed, informed by a security logic. Conversely, the formal labour market is now open to Syrians but in limited sectors, a decision informed by a geopolitical rent seeking, and fears of local unrest from the Syrian competition for jobs. Encampment policy is driven by similar logics of securitization and rent seeking, and is informed by the recent experience of the Iraqi refugee-crisis. The paper is based on three months of fieldwork conducted across 2016 and 2017, including qualitative interviews with national and local level Jordanian officials, and international agency staff.