Jordan issued a record 62,000 work permits to Syrian refugees living in its borders last year, according to a press release yesterday by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), noting that it was the highest annual figure since the permits were introduced in 2016.
"Refugees can play a significant role in the Jordanian economy, and so they should," said UNHCR Representative in Jordan Dominik Bartsch.
"Allowing refugees to work also reduces the need for humanitarian aid, like cash grants, which could be channelled to support the most vulnerable among them."
Of the 62,000 permits issued, 31,000 are flexible ones, enabling Syrian refugees to move between similar jobs in the same sector as well as among employers and governorates. Prior to the move, Syrian refugees in Jordan were mainly restricted to agricultural, construction and manufacturing jobs, however last year, due to the ongoing pandemic, some were given exemptions to work in other sectors including in healthcare.
"With the pressing need to support Jordan's economic recovery from COVID, it's great to see more refugees than ever being able to contribute," explained Bartsch.
After Turkey, Jordan hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees with over 1.3 million registered and unregistered refugees. Since the conflict in Syria over a decade ago, more than 6.7 million Syrians have been forcibly displaced from their country. The kingdom has the second highest number of refugees per capita globally following Lebanon.
Earlier this month, the UN agency announced that 5,500 Syria refugees had left Jordan and returned to Syria last year, adding that while many more wished to return, they were unable to due to continued violence and instability in addition to the pandemic.