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Double-edged sword

Feb 05,2014 - Last updated at Feb 05,2014

The government’s decision to open up the labour market for Syrian technicians and professionals is a double-edged sword.

The decision taken upon the recommendation of the Economic Development Committee offers opportunities to certain categories of Syrian labourers to be self reliant and not a burden on the Jordanian economy while they reside in this country.

That is a measure that should help both Jordanian employers and the Syrians who benefit from it.

On the down side, however, as unemployment figures in Jordan are high, employing Syrians could be at the expense of Jordanians, and that is unwise.

True, the government is in a tight position when it comes to the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who were forced to flee their country in search of safety and freedom from oppression.

The responsibility to look after them is huge and taxing the already strained resources of the Kingdom.

Help does come in, but not enough to see Jordan sail through this with not a worry in the world.

And while the Kingdom is doing all it can to make life easier for the Syrian refugees, including, now, offering them access to the labour market, one need also consider the implications of its policies and measures on the country’s citizens.

The decision to open windows of opportunity for skilled Syrians willing to enter the labour market is certainly subject to certain limitations. They should not exceed 30 per cent in urban areas and 60 per cent in rural areas, but still one cannot expect this measure to have no impact on Jordanian workers.

The Jordan Valley is already inundated with unskilled Syrian labourers working on farms, competing with Jordanian and Egyptian workers.

The international community’s search for a solution to the conflict in Syria, and by extension to the plight of the refugees, must continue in a meaningful way.

Until one is found, Jordan and the other neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees will continue to bear the brunt of the crisis.

Care should be paid, however, for that not to be at the expense of our own people.

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