Refugee Livelihood and Work Permits in Urban Areas: The Case of Jordan

Masters candidate Vicky Kelberer

Assistant Professor Noora Lori

Dr. Noora Anwar Lori, an Assistant Professor in the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, with Pardee Masters student Vicky Kelberer and in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, will develop an impact assessment of work permits on the livelihoods of Syrian refugees living in Jordan.

Jordan has recently taken a leadership position among refugee host countries by adopting work authorization for refugees and eliminating associated fees. It presents the first opportunity to demonstrate the viability and value of work permit programs for urban refugees. However, just 3,000 of this year’s 78,000 available work permits have been issued. Lori and Kelberer will examine the institutional, economic and house-hold level obstacles that may be contributing to the gap between the number of people willing and able to work and those who have formally entered the labor force, analyze the impact of work permit access on household vulnerability, and identify program revisions to enhance impact.

They seek to address the key challenge of increasing access to livelihoods and decreasing vulnerability for refugees in urban areas. This project will take place in Jordan, where 85 percent of the country’s 640,000 registered Syrian refugees live outside of camps and alongside populations of poor Jordanians, as well as Iraqi and Palestinian refugees who have been living in the country for years or even decades.

Lori and Kelberer will complete a literature review, a quantitative study through a series of household surveys, and qualitative interviews with humanitarian organizations, government officials, and urban refugees.

Lori has received grants from the Boston Consortium for Arab Region Studies, the Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilization, and the Boston University Pardee School.


Kelberer, Victoria. The Work Permit Initiative for Syrian Refugees in Jordan: Implications for Policy and Practice. Boston Consortium for Arab Region Studies. 2017.

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