Pathways to Success
Educational scholarships, labor mobility schemes and family reunification offer refugees in Jordan the opportunity to rebuild their lives in third countries.
Ibrahim Hariri, a Syrian refugee and nurse, is pictured at work at the Emphinet clinic in Zaatari Camp which has been providing PCR tests for refugees living in the camp throughout the pandemic.
The search for refugee solutions remains an ongoing challenge. Resettlement places are only available each year for 1% of refugees globally. And when, return to their home country is not considered safe, many refugees find themselves unable to access a long-term solution in countries of asylum.
Over 80,000 refugees have left Jordan through resettlement opportunities to 23 countries since 2003. A concrete demonstration of responsibility sharing from the international community to Jordan, which continues to host the second largest share of refugees globally per capita.
In recent years, however, other opportunities have opened up. Pathways offering legal avenues for refugee to stay in third countries based on education, work and family connections can also demonstrate solidarity with the government of Jordan, and offer refugees hope as they are given the chance to build their own futures. While they may initially offer temporary stay arrangements, pathways may lead to permanent residency or citizenship and safeguard the international protection needs of refugees, or indeed, provide skills through which refugees can contribute to rebuilding their countries once it is safe to return.
Since 2019, nearly 800 refugees are known to have departed Jordan on such pathways, although the true scale of such pathways is believed to be much higher. UNHCR Jordan is committed to tap into these opportunities and is working with a variety of partners and governments to assist refugees in accessing university scholarships, employment schemes and family reunification pathways.
Here are some stories of refugees who have embarked on ‘Pathways to Success’ in recent years.
After eight years of living in Zaatari Refugee Camp, Zakariya left Jordan in December 2020 on a Habesha scholarship to Mexico. Despite being thirty-two years old, Zakariya never gave up on his dream of completing his education and was inspired to study psychology based on his experience as a refugee.
“The circumstances that most of the people of my country lived through have been very harsh. It has impacted us completely; it has impacted a whole generation. But understanding even the basics of psychology can help you understand why you feel a certain way. It can help you get through the trauma.”
After arriving in Mexico, in early 2021 Zakariya embarked on an intensive language course to learn Spanish before he started his studies.
Ibrahim, a Syrian refugee and nurse, fled Syria in 2013. Prior to the conflict he had worked as the Deputy of the School of Nursing in Daraa, Southern Syria and when he arrived in Jordan, was determined to put his skills to good use.
Due to the fact that Syrian refugees are not allowed to work as nurses in Jordan, he instead volunteered his skills with humanitarian organizations working in Zaatari refugee camp. At the beginning of his time in the camp he created a community health committee which grew to become 120 nurses and later, during the COVID-19 pandemic, his skills became more vital than ever.
Because of his background and experience in nursing, Ibrahim started working with an organization called Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB) which helped him to create a profile in their talent catalogue to see if he was qualified for any job openings overseas. Talent Beyond Boundaries matched Ibrahim with a job opportunity in the UK, providing him with the chance to restart his life from scratch. A legal pathway for him to provide an income for his family and support the labour shortage faced by national health systems.
“At first I will work as an Assistant Nurse. If I pass all the exams, I will be working as a registered nurse. I’m looking forward to explore the place, to find more people there, to engage in the community, to help my kids, find schools for them and cover their medical needs.”
Ahmed & Ibrahim
Ahmed and Ibrahim both studied at engineering back at university in Syria but due to the conflict were unable to graduate. Years after fleeing their home, in 2018 they finally got another opportunity to continue their studies through applying to join the Japanese Initiative for the Future of Syrian Refugees (JISR)*, where they would study at a Japanese university to obtain an MBA.
“In Syria, everyone grew up watching Japanese anime, and “Made in Japan” is synonymous with high quality. Japan is respected in the Middle East for its high-quality, consistent, efficient, and lean manufacturing methods. I majored in engineering, so I felt that I had a lot to learn from Japan,” reflects Ahmed.
After undertaking their Master’s degree in Japan, both Ahmed and Ibrahim managed to secure an internship at Toyota to build on the knowledge and skills they had learnt during their studies.
“Toyota is known all over the world. I thought gaining experience at a global company like Toyota would allow me to learn a lot and hone my skills,” states Ahmed.
Following their internship, Ibrahim landed a job at a startup in Japan while Ahmed is currently writing his master’s thesis in preparation for graduation this year. Both hope that they will be able to apply their skills back in Syria one day.
“You need a big team to change the world. The people who came to Japan under the JISR program are now working at companies in a variety of fields and gaining all kinds of experience. When we all return to Syria, share our knowledge, and collaborate, I believe we will succeed in making huge improvements in all kinds of fields,” concludes Ibrahim.
Shaima, 20, a Sudanese refugee lived in Jordan her whole life after her parents fled Sudan has dreamed of opening her own business since being a child.
After completing her secondary education in Jordan, last summer she received a scholarship to study economics and business at LUISS university in Italy. Well into her first year of her bachelor, she is enjoying her time in Rome, making friends, learning Italian, and studying hard to become an accountant.
“Hopefully through this scholarship, I will be able to find work and support my family. I want to be a businesswoman. Maybe one day I can go back to Sudan and establish a company there.”
Grateful for the opportunity to continue her education, she sends a message to other girls, “sometimes it can be hard for us to access higher education, but I want you to believe in yourself and to walk through any hard step that might delay your education. This kind of education is very important, it will open the door for other females to look out for a bright and great future.”
In Jordan, there is a wide array of talented, skilled and experienced refugees. Pathways are a life-changing opportunity for the refugees to use their qualifications and skills and also contribute to achieving the following:
- ease pressure on host countries by promoting a fairer sharing of responsibilities;
- expand third-country solutions for refugees and give them alternatives to irregular means and dangerous onward movement;
- enhance refugee self-reliance and build capacities to achieve a durable solution;
- support third countries in addressing labour or skills shortages;
- build public support for refugees by demonstrating their positive contributions to receiving societies.
For more information on complementary pathways, please find the following resources:
- UNHCR’s website provides additional information on complementary pathways, including documents and resources (https://www.unhcr.org/complementary-pathways.html)
- UNHCR’s Opportunities Portal lists available third-country educational scholarship opportunities that refugees are eligible to apply for (https://services.unhcr.org/opportunities/)