Jordan: making migrant integration sustainable and inclusive

The Greater Irbid Municipality (GIM) is collaborating with MIEUX+ to enhance social and employment services for arriving migrants and refugees.

Since 2012, more and more partners have expressed their interest in improving their knowledge in the management of migrant and refugee integration in a safe, coordinated, and inclusive manner. The integration of migrants and refugees is prominent also in the ongoing phase of MIEUX+.

For instance, the State Migration Service and the MIEUX+ team developed a Migrant Integration Strategy and related Action Plan, as part of the Action Azerbaijan IV. Moreover, the team worked on drafting a new National Integration Plan in partnership with the Directorate General of Migration and Immigration (DGME) in the framework of the Action Costa Rica V. More recently, the  Greater Municipality of Irbid has requested the team’s assistance in developing a comprehensive approach and boosting effective services for migrant and refugee integration.

Simultaneously, extra effort was made to consolidate the knowledge on the topic built during these past years with the design of an online training course. The MIEUX+ team is in the final stages of completing the online course entitled “A holistic approach to the Integration of migrants and refugees” and more information will be made available soon.

Setting the scene

Migration has deeply influenced Jordan’s history, shaping its politics, economy, society, and urban landscape. With 89 refugees per 1,000 inhabitants, it remains the second largest refugee host per capita globally.

Irbid, located in Northern Jordan, ranks as the country’s third-largest city after Amman and Zarqa. It has historically attracted Syrian workers who commuted between the municipality and their Syrian villages. The Syrian conflict led over one million Syrian refugees to move to Jordan, especially to Irbid, due to existing familial, social, and professional networks in the area.

The GIM has implemented various measures to promote social integration, particularly for Syrian refugees. These measures include ensuring accessibility to public services, promoting public participation, and improving the enforcement of laws related to licensing home-based businesses. Irbid has been active in seeking innovative ways to promote the integration of displaced groups into the broader community and improve its provision of social and employment services.

GIM and MIEUX+ partnership

Recognising the need to shift from an emergency response to long-term capacity development policies, the municipality is now focused on adapting local programmes related to integration matters. Against this backdrop, the GIM has requested targeted assistance from MIEUX+.

The project will involve multiple knowledge exchange sessions and the development of local integration programmes focused on establishing “Green Community Centres” for Jordanians, refugees, and migrants in Irbid. The objective of the programme is two-fold: to foster social cohesion through participation in “Green Community Centre” activities and to contribute to the green development of the city. Additionally, a report will be created to highlight best practices and lessons learnt from regional and European municipal plans. Notably, the Jordan III Action stands out as a unique initiative, making it one of the pioneering projects in the region.

What we mean by ‘regional pioneers’?

To leverage MIEUX+’s extensive experience in facilitating the exchange of expertise with European and regional partners, the 'Regional pioneers' type of project was introduced in 2020. It was designed to enable the sharing of practices and lessons learnt by ‘regional pioneers’ with peer institutions in different countries, both within and across regions.

The Action Cabo Verde IV was identified as the most suitable MIEUX+ project for knowledge exchange with the Jordanian partners. Its primary objective was to enhance the capacity of Cabo Verde municipal authorities in managing migration and promoting social integration through insights from Portuguese experts.

With the Action Jordan III, the team is set to tackle common challenges by focusing on priorities central to the Action Cabo Verde IV. This initiative will aim to further develop various practices observed in Cabo Verde IV, emphasising a holistic and multistakeholder approach to migrant integration. Importantly, the team will prioritise the inclusion of a gender-sensitive approach to combat discrimination and inequality, as well as measures that help to fight soil degradation and climate change.

This endeavour will not only strengthen inter-regional cooperation between Jordan, Cabo Verde and the EU, but also facilitate the exchange of knowledge and ideas related to the integration of migrants and refugees at local level. The MIEUX+ team and experts will play a pivotal role in supporting these exchanges through organised knowledge sharing sessions and reports during the planned activities under this Action.

Initiating the Dialogue

In early October 2023, the team travelled to Irbid, where they carried out capacity and training needs assessments. During this visit, a roundtable discussion was organised to foster dialogue on the critical subjects of harmonisation and social cohesion with refugees.

The MIEUX+ team and partners also had the privilege of sharing valuable insights from best practices in Italy by the Association of Italian municipalities, by Tangier in Morocco, by Barcelona in Spain and by Mechelen in Belgium. These discussions focused on specific aspects, notably social services, and employment within the labour market.

Upcoming activities will involve another exchange session with our counterparts from Cabo Verde, coupled with the development of a local integration programme for the GIM.

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