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Project News: TRAFIG holds first Stakeholder Workshop in Irbid, Jordan

13 February 2020


On 9 February, the first interactive TRAFIG stakeholder workshop took place in Irbid, Jordan. It kicked off a series of events in the TRAFIG focus countries. This first workshop aimed to discuss viable policy options and good practices and supports the identification of possible solutions to protracted displacement.

Organised by Yarmouk University in cooperation with BICC, CMI and ICMPD, it further built on the preliminary research results of the TRAFIG project and invited workshop participants to contribute to the analysis of these results. At the opening of the workshop, the vice-president for administrative affairs of Yarmouk University, Prof. Anis Khasawneh, addressed his welcome remarks to the participants. He emphasised the significance of the Syrian crisis for Jordan as a major host country and the objective of the university to promote excellence in this field of research. After a presentation of the objectives of the project by Benjamin Etzold, BICC, Fawwaz Momani, Yarmouk University, introduced the research team and presented the research methods applied in the Jordanian context, consisting of qualitative interviews, quantitative data collection and analysis, ethnographic methods as well as group consultations. Sarah Tobin, CMI, presented the preliminary research findings in four of the TRAFIG themes, namely “Navigating through Governance Regimes”, “Living in Limbo”, “Following the Networks” and “Building Alliances”. The results were drawn based on more than 100 interviews with Syrian refugees in Irbid, hosting about 30% of the country’s urban refugees; Mafraq which was one of the earliest sites for Syrian refugees to congregate in Jordan; and Zaatari, one of the largest refugee camps in the world.

Sarah Tobin highlighted that humanitarian assistance is gradually decreasing, leading to food insecurity and a lack of access to medical care. Research also showed that work permits, despite the “Jordan compact” and enhanced efforts of the government and the international community, are difficult to access and not tailored to the needs of women. Women also have distinct security-related concerns for themselves and are concerned by threats of conscripting their male children in Syria. Networks play a crucial role, one the one hand for facilitating a safe passage to the Jordanian border, on the other they are having an impact on settlement choices. Social ties and interaction with host communities, however, are weakened by security issues in the host and sending country as well as a lack of integration in the labour market in particular.

In the subsequent discussions and the working group sessions, participants raised important issues that will be integrated in the next research phase. It was highlighted that in order to expand opportunities for Syrian refugees, the shared responsibility needs to lead to intensified efforts in the education and labour market sector. Funding should be further aligned with national priorities and a longterm political vision should be developed. Furthermore, livelihood support needs to be guided by development principles and understood in a broader sense, including providing more options for mobility in the wider region and beyond.

The workshop brought together humanitarian and development actors working with displaced persons, international organisations, representatives from Jordanian national authorities and academia. It was moderated by Marion Noack, ICMPD.

The workshop was organised in the framework of the EU-funded Horizon 2020 research project “Transnational Figurations of Displacement” (TRAFIG) which investigates long-lasting displacement situations at multiple sites in Asia, Africa and Europe and analyses options to improve displaced people’s lives.

 

More information on the EU-funded Horizon 2020 project TRAFIG, can be found here.