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Syrian Refugees in Jordan: the Challenge of Sustainable Development

Syrian Refugees in Jordan: The Challenge of Sustainable Development

Principal Investigator: Professor Jackline Wahba, University of Southampton

 

Forced displacement is a global challenge. The outbreak of the conflict in Syria in 2011 has displaced 4.7 million people to neighbouring countries. According to the 2015 Population Census of Jordan, Jordan is currently hosting 1.3 million Syrians, of whom 630,000 are registered as refugees with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The Syrian influx comes on top of an additional 1.6 million foreigners residing in Jordan.  Compared to a total population of 6.6 million Jordanians in 2015, the non-national population of refugees and migrants have potentially increased Jordan’s population by about 45%, undoubtedly placing severe pressures on labour markets and public services. There is little rigorous evidence on the economic consequences of forced displacement for developing countries, who host 86% of the world’s refugees, partly due to the paucity of adequate data.

Using rigorous methodologies and rich new data sets, this project aims to provide better understanding of the effects of hosting refugees on Jordanian society and, particularly, on the country’s labour market and the access and quality of public services. We study the socio-economic impact for both Jordanians, Syrian refugees and other groups of immigrants, highlighting the effects on women, youth and children. The project will provide better understanding of the effects of hosting refugees on Jordanian society and, particularly, on the country’s labour market and the access and quality of public services.

The project focuses on the impact of the influx of Syrian refugees on:

(i)                 Labour Market Outcomes: such as types of employment, sectoral choice and wages;

(ii)              Public Services: access to housing and education;

(iii)            Women’s status: freedom of movement and female labour force participation.

Our study is of importance to Syria, a country in conflict and included in the recent ODA strategy for the UK Government under strengthening resilience and response to crises strategy; the UK Government pledges “more support for ongoing crises, including that in Syria and other countries in the MENA region”. The project is at the heart of the development challenges: dealing with strengthening the resilience of communities hosting refugees but also providing rigorous evidence to inform policy on sustaining governance, growth and human development. Understanding the impact of the refugee influx on nationals, existing immigrants and refugees is paramount to improving the welfare of all those affected directly and indirectly, as well the development of Jordan and of Syria once those refugees return back.

There are 15.6 million refugees. Moreover, 4 out of 5 refugees are settled in developing countries which over-burden their scarce resources, and compromise their path to sustainable development. At the same time, there are 13.7 million people in Syria in need of assistance and who potentially may also become refugees. Our project will provide evidence on the impact of hosting refugees in developing countries highlighting both the challenges as well as the potential opportunities.

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