What follows is another comprehensive look at the CRP community through the lens of the new season of the Collateral Repair Podcast. If you are an auditory learner, click here to listen to Episode 4. If you are a bit more of a research nerd, keep reading.

To survive in today’s world, you need money. And to make money, you need a job. But this is not a simple proposition for Jordan’s 700,000 refugees–the majority of whom face exclusion from Jordan’s formal economy because of the country’s policies on foreign work.

In our most recent episode of the Collateral Repair Podcast, we broke down these policies with Shaddin al-Masri, a PhD student at Danube University Krems who studies refugee integration in the labor market.

“Why can’t refugees work in Jordan?” The answer is more complicated than it appears, Shaddin explained. We need to understand that the kafala system reigns in Jordan–a labor system, predominant across the Arab world, through which employers sponsor workers to come from abroad to fill certain jobs. But refugees are already in the country. The kafala system doesn’t provide a guideline for this type of ‘domestic’ sponsorship.

In 2016, some donors, academics, and governments began to realize this. What followed was the Jordan Compact: an EU-Jordan agreement that led to experimental ‘special economic zones‘ around refugee camps. This included the waiving of application fees for some permits in certain sectors–for Syrians, only. You have to remember, the Syrian Civil War was front and center at that time, and more than 600,000 Syrians live in Jordan. The result is other refugees have been left in the dark.

The Lavender Bazaar at CRP’s Downtown Center in December.

So what do we have today? Syrians work legally in some sectors. Some NGOs can employ refugees on a volunteer stipend. Others have created initiatives that empower refugees to create their own products and sell them. But are these solutions sustainable? Job creation in Jordan is at a low, and fewer Jordanians are working abroad, crowding the market. Where can you sell your products? Where can you apply your skills? All of this is compounded by the fact that, since 2019, a refugee who wants to apply for a work permit must forfeit their status as an asylum-seeker. Some have. Such is the hierarchy of needs.

At CRP, we do our best to provide a space for people who have been displaced to recapture a part of themselves: to learn new skills, find new passions, build something with their own hands (quite literally). We’ve seen the immense mental benefit of these initiatives, which lead to a newfound sense of purpose and community. But we also look forward to the day when our community members can take these skills openly and proudly to the market–a day when they’ll have the same chance, on the same footing, to make a living.

Until that day–thanks for supporting our community. Want more? Listen to Season 2, Episode 4 of the CRP Podcast, now on Spotify.

Enjoy the episode,

Zach Goodwin

Communications & Fundraising Intern