Job fair offers hope for refugees in Jordan

A Syrian refugee woman registers her name at the Zaatari office for employment on October 4, 2017 in the refugee camp 80 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman. (AFP)
Updated 05 October 2017
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Job fair offers hope for refugees in Jordan

ZAATARI REFUGEE CAMP, Jordan: After five years without work, Syrian refugee Mohammed Ahmad was nervous but hopeful as he registered with as many firms as possible at a unique job fair in Jordan’s sprawling Zaatari camp where he lives.
Around 50 companies were represented at the one-day event Wednesday as they scouted for candidates to fill some 1,000 job opportunities, compiling lists of applicants by name, age and qualification.
The EU-funded job fair, a first at the desert camp that houses some 80,000 refugees, comes after the launch in August of the only employment office at Zaatari following a decision by the Jordanian government to grant residents work permits and let them work in larger towns.
For father of four Ahmad, who fled from Daraa in southern Syria just across the border, the project could provide a vital lifeline.
“I’ve been living in this camp for five years and spend most of my time sitting around or sleeping,” the 34-year-old former farmer.
“Living conditions are very hard here and I hope to get a job that will save us from this.”
Ahmad admitted he was “in desperate need of money” as his family struggles to get by on the roughly $30 per person they get each month in credit to spend at the desert camp’s two markets.
In comparison, the monthly salaries for the jobs offered at the fair, also supported by the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) and the Jordanian government, rise up to 210 dinars ($300).
Overall, since the launch of the employment office at Zaatari, some 3,000 Syrians have used the facilities to help secure work in the agriculture, industrial and food-processing sectors, organizers said.
The long-term aim is eventually to provide 200,000 job opportunities for the Syrian refugees spread across Jordan, said Andrea Fontana, the EU ambassador to the kingdom, .
According to the UNHCR, more than 650,000 refugees have fled to Jordan since their country’s war erupted in March 2011, while Amman says the actual figure is 1.3 million.
Stefano Severe, the UNHCR representative to Jordan, said both sides stand to benefit.
“I am confident that having an increased number of Syrians entering the labor market will positively impact the local economy and bring stability to refugee families,” he said in a statement.
Dressmaker Sheikha Fadlallah, 54, says the project has become a hot topic in the Zaatari camp, 80km north of the Jordanian capital Amman.
“Everybody here is excited about the idea of finding work,” she said. “I need to get a job to pay to fix my teeth. They’re completely messed up.”
From the employer’s point of view, the tens of thousands of residents in the camp offer a large pool of abilities from which to select candidates.
Yussef Al-Khawalda, an agent with an agricultural firm, said he needed 16 employees for animal care.
“I hope they all find jobs because it’s very sad to see so many people with potential who are just sitting around doing nothing,” said Mahmud Jallal, looking for 30 recruits for his pastry factory.
But many face disappointment.
“I haven’t found a job. I’ve spoken to representatives of three companies, all of who told me I’m old and they’re looking for young people,” said Ihsan Al-Masri, 46.
Masri, a father of seven and former van driver, said he had offered to do “any job, security guard or garbage collector, but in vain.”
Fellow refugee Nassib Mohammed Saleh, at 76, is nostalgic for the pre-war days when he ran his own business back home and had three employees.
“Believe me, all I have left is this dinar,” he said, pulling a coin out of his pocket.


Turkish court rejects Australia’s request to extradite Daesh recruiter

A Turkish soldier is seen in an armoured personnel carrier at a check point near the Turkish-Syrian border in Kilis province, Turkey. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 July 2018
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Turkish court rejects Australia’s request to extradite Daesh recruiter

  • Ties between Turkey and its allies fighting Daesh, particularly the United States, have been frayed by Washington’s support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia
  • Australia had been pressing Turkey to extradite Prakash since he was first detained

SYDNEY: A Turkish court rejected an Australian request to extradite a citizen it believes is a top recruiter for the Daesh group, Australia’s foreign minister said on Friday, in a setback for Canberra’s efforts to prosecute him at home.
Melbourne-born Neil Prakash has been linked to several Australia-based attack plans and has appeared in Daesh videos and magazines. Australia has alleged that he actively recruited Australian men, women and children and encouraged acts of militancy.
“We are disappointed that the Kilis Criminal Court in Turkey has rejected the request to extradite Neil Prakash to Australia,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a statement.
“We will continue to engage with Turkish authorities as they consider whether to appeal the extradition decision,” she said.
Australia had been pressing Turkey to extradite Prakash since he was first detained there nearly two years ago.
Australia’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported from Kilis that Prakash was initially ordered to be freed but was later charged under Turkish law with being a Daesh member.
A spokesman at Turkey’s foreign ministry in Istanbul had no immediate comment and the Turkish embassy in Australia did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Ties between Turkey and its allies fighting Daesh, particularly the United States, have been frayed by Washington’s support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara regards as a militant group.
Canberra announced financial sanctions against Prakash in 2015, including anyone giving him financial assistance, with punishment of up to 10 years in jail.
The Australian government wrongly reported in 2016, based on US intelligence, that Prakash had been killed in an air strike in Mosul, Iraq. It later confirmed that Prakash was detained in Turkey.
Australia raised its national terror threat level to “high” for the first time in 2015, citing the likelihood of attacks by Australians radicalized in Iraq or Syria.
A staunch ally of the United States and its actions against Daesh in Syria and Iraq, Australia believes more than 100 of its citizens were fighting in the region.