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.


‘Deal reached to evacuate pro-regime Syria towns’

Syrian government forces and Syrian Arab Red Crescent oversee the evacuation by buses of opposition fighters and their families from the southern province of Daraa, Syria, in this July 15, 2018 photo. (AP)
Updated 18 July 2018
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‘Deal reached to evacuate pro-regime Syria towns’

  • The deal provides for the total evacuation of residents in the two towns, which are besieged by the rebels
  • Airstrikes killed 14 civilians in Ain Al-Tina village on Quneitra’s border with Daraa

BEIRUT: Thousands of people will be evacuated from two besieged pro-regime towns in Syria in exchange for the release of prisoners held in regime’s jails, a monitor said on Tuesday.
Under a deal brokered by regime ally Russia and Turkey, Fuaa and Kafraya, the last besieged towns in the country, will be fully evacuated after three years of encirclement, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“The deal provides for the total evacuation of residents in the two towns, which are besieged by the rebels and Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, to regime territory in nearby Aleppo province,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.
“In exchange, hundreds of detainees will be released from regime prisons,” Abdel Rahman told AFP.
Syrian state media reported on Tuesday on preliminary information on a deal to free “thousands” of people in Fuaa and Kafraya.
Fuaa and Kafraya, the only two places in Syria currently designated as besieged by the UN, are home to an estimated 8,100 people, most of them Shiite Muslims.

15 civilians killed
Airstrikes on Tuesday killed more than a dozen civilians in parts of Syria’s south near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, a war monitor said.
The regime has been pounding the southwestern province of Quneitra since Sunday in a bid to retake it from the opposition, after winning back most of the neighboring governorate of Daraa in less than a month.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said airstrikes killed 14 civilians in Ain Al-Tina village on Quneitra’s border with Daraa which had reportedly been taking shelter in a large building.
“They were all displaced from other areas. They included five children and three women,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
Two bodies were so charred they were unrecognizable. It was not immediately clear whether the strikes were carried out by the regime or its Russian ally, the Britain-based monitor said.