Moving beyond Humanitarian Assistance: Supporting Jordan as a Refugee-hosting Country

World Refugee & Migration Council Research Report

Belal Fallah, Rasha Istaiteyeh and Yusuf Mansur

Thinking Long-term about Syrian Refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey

This research report was produced as part of the World Refugee & Migration Council’s Syrian Refugees in Jordan and the Region project with support from the International Development Research Centre.

This study, conducted by three economists in the region — Belal Fallah, Rasha Istaiteyeh and Yusuf Mansur — analyzes the impact of Syrian refugees on Jordan’s economy and suggests ways that the international community can receive more international support. The issue of global responsibility-sharing for refugees was a major theme of the Council’s A Call to Action report in 2019.

The first section of the study, written by Belal Fallah, analyzes the characteristics of Syrian refugees and their impact on the Jordanian economy. He notes that the refugees have mostly come from rural areas in Syria, tend to be less educated than Jordanians, are mostly employed in the informal sector and experience poor living conditions. In terms of the effect on the Jordanian economy, he reviews existing literature, finding that the presence of the refugees has little effect on the labour market. Based on governmental reports, he also demonstrates that the Jordanian government appears to have incurred substantial costs to provide public services to Syrian refugees. He further analyzes the economic impact of COVID-19 on Syrian refugees, finding that the refugees suffered disproportionately as a result of the pandemic and measures taken to prevent its spread.

In the second section of the study, Rasha Istaiteyeh assesses the possibilities for Syrian refugees to find solutions for providing economic opportunities for Syrian refugees. Given the political situation in Syria, it is unlikely that most Syrians will be able to return to their country in the foreseeable future and resettlement of Syrian refugees from Jordan will not offer a solution for the vast majority of Syrian refugees. Given the reality that most Syrian refugees will remain in Jordan for the long term, new measures should be taken to increase their inclusion into the Jordanian economy and society. Specifically, she proposes converting refugee camps into special economic zones, increasing support for refugees’ entrepreneurial efforts and working to certify Syrian refugee educational credentials.

Yusuf Mansur, in the third section of this report, begins by analyzing the international assistance received by Jordan from 2012–2019 and the impact of the Syrian refugees on aid inflows. He then discusses the challenges of implementing the Jordan Compact and the limited impact it has had on the employment and economic integration of refugees. He concludes by assessing the recommendations of the WRC for increasing international support — beyond humanitarian assistance — for Jordan as a major refugee-hosting country.

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