Amman (29 July 2015) – A report by CARE Jordan says current livelihood programs in Azraq refugee camp have closed economic gaps but more must be done to support refugee self-reliance.
The report, released in collaboration with Silatech, a regional organization based in Qatar and focused on youth entrepreneurship, studied skills and market opportunities for youth in Azraq refugee camp, 100 kilometres east of Amman. The camp is host to more than 19,000 Syrian refugees, who have fled the neighbouring conflict, soon in its fifth year.
Since Azraq camp opened in April 2014, an incentive-based volunteer program managed by CARE has ensured 1,800* Syrians have earned an income through a variety of skilled and unskilled labor activities within the camp. The program, in which refugees can volunteer with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), has injected more than 785,000 JOD (at least one million US dollars) into the camp economy.
“This programme was a major step in creating opportunities where refugees can offer their skills or develop new ones, meanwhile NGOs benefit from the experience of Syrian refugees,” says Wouter Schaap, acting country director for CARE Jordan.
The success of the volunteer effort has relied upon coordination between Jordan’s Syria Refugees Affairs Directorate (SRAD), UNHCR, CARE and other NGOs, organizing placement, rotation, and reporting. “The impact has been significant for those who participate, but the volunteer opportunities fall short of absorbing the supply of Syrians willing and able to contribute, the same who have yet to meet their needs,” Schaap says.
Due to government regulations, work permits are difficult to acquire and livelihood opportunities outside of incentive-based volunteering are limited. The CARE report found that residents rely heavily on the World Food Programme (WFP) voucher programme, which provides 20JOD (28 US dollars) per person. Residents of the camp have few options for comparative price shopping and must use their vouchers at the only supermarket in the camp.
The opening of a market place in Azraq camp is anticipated to provide the camp population with numerous opportunities for income as well as improving their quality of life by the increased availability of products and services needed in the community. The report found a strong demand and high potential for positions such as barbers or hairdressers, mobile phone repair, or selling saplings and seeds.
“Syrian refugees in the camp, particularly the youth, would greatly benefit from the chance to contribute to their livelihoods,” says Marten Mylius, CARE team leader in Azraq camp. “They are eager to build a better life for themselves and they don’t want to depend on handouts or see their skills dulling away. It would be of mutual benefit to refugees in Azraq camp, the NGOs and the Government of Jordan, to invest in apprenticeships and encourage refugee-led business initiatives.”
The report also found that women face several obstacles to participating in the local economy, including household duties, child care, and proximity to work places.
“Opportunities to work in the home, or closer to home would make it easier for a woman to contribute financially, build her skills, and ensure a better future for her family,” adds Schapp.
*This is the current figure, updated from what is reflected in the report.
Mahmoud Shabeeb, Regional Syria Response Communications Officer
Mahmoud.Shabeeb@jo.care.org; + 962 (0) 79 711 7413