Yamama Mousa and her family fled the war in Syria to neighboring Jordan in 2013 leaving their livelihood and all their possessions behind. Like millions of refugees around the world, they had to rely on aid agencies to survive. Today, the 29-year-old works at a high-end spa in Amman and hopes to have her own business in the future.
“For three years after arriving in Jordan I had nothing. No aim in life, no dream, no education and no job,” Mousa said. “I had a passion for beauty care which I was able to develop and cultivate, thanks to the training offered by Education for Employment. It helped me build self-confidence and rebuild my life.”
Education for Employment is a nongovernmental organization that trains youth and links them to jobs across the Middle East and North Africa. (See a related article, “Little Hope of Jobs for Syrians in Lebanon and Jordan.”)
After receiving a two-month course specializing in nail care, Moussa found a job with the organization’s help.
“I could never hope for a better workplace,” she said at a webinar titled “More Than a Refugee” organized by Education for Employment to mark World Refugee Day. “I received many benefits, including a work permit, social security coverage and medical insurance. I will continue working in this field which I really love and I hope to be able to open my own venture in the future.”
UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, recently estimated that at least 80 million people around the world have been displaced from their homes, the highest number in recorded history. Nearly 26.4 million have fled to other countries, half of whom are under the age of 18.
The Right to Work
Ahmad Awad, a speaker at the webinar and founder of the Phenix Center for Economic & Informatics Studies, underlined the economic benefits that host countries can gain by relaxing employment restrictions to enable refugees to become self-reliant in protracted refugee crises.
“There is no country in the world that does not host refugees or migrants,” Awad said. “It is a humanitarian issue and a reality that we should deal with by taking into consideration refugees’ rights, and one of the most important rights is the right to work.”