In Search of a Silver Bullet: Limited Win-Win Space for Refugees and Hosting Countries

In Search of a Silver Bullet: Limited Win-Win Space for Refugees and Hosting Countries


Lukas Voborsky, Regional Director – Syria Crisis Response, Caritas Switzerland

In the context of the Syria Crisis, the search for relevant and effective resilience-focused solutions has been on top of the agenda over the past 6 years and in a more pronounced manner over the last 3 years of the crisis. Pressure from the international community on hosting countries, such as Jordan and Lebanon, has been steadily increasing and access of refugees to the labour market has been advocated for. Eventually, some countries, such as Jordan, embraced this new paradigm. However, can they actually fully deliver on their promises of refugee labour force integration? Participants at the regional meeting on mixed migration tended to think that such integration is not fully feasible; as an employee of a humanitarian agency, I found the broad consensus among diverse groups represented at the conference very positive. Discussions acknowledged limits of labour force integration in host communities in refugee contexts, where it is more difficult to match worker’s skill profiles, labour demand and job preferences as it often is in cases of labour migration. Questions regarding burden-sharing started to surface – even with best approaches to building self-reliance and working on livelihood capacities of the forcefully displaced, the speed and limits at which a humanitarian disaster can be turned into an opportunity need to be equally highlighted. And then again: turning a humanitarian disaster into an opportunity does not necessarily diminish the disaster itself and the linked refugee flows to Europe, which - more or less openly - is the agenda of the international community, the same community which concurrently has a stake in the on-going war in Syria as well.

If no one is to be left behind as we boldly pledged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a call for realistic integrated approaches is key to both embracing the equitable burden-sharing and looking at how the untapped refugee labour force can be leveraged and turned into an economic opportunity. Advocacy for change and more attention to durable and sustainable solutions has to go hand in hand with realistic communication to our constituencies. Being part of the international community, we have already failed the people of Syria and it is unfortunate that development approaches are only now acknowledging productive potential of the forcefully displaced in and outside of Syria. 


​​Participants of the Regional Meeting "Protection and Decent Work in a Mixed Migration Content".  

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