Press release

ILO-UNHCR policy dialogue examines access of host communities and forcibly displaced persons to Iraq’s labour market

The event focused on ILO’s newly developed report which examines global and country level policy, legislative and regulatory frameworks, practices and gaps shaping access to the labour market and proposes recommendations that support efforts to promote decent work for refugees, IDPs and host communities in Iraq.

Press release | Erbil, Iraq | 02 December 2022
The stakeholders from government, trade unions, employers and private sector participated at the national policy dialogue in Iraq ©ILO/Zanyar
A policy dialogue was organised by the ILO and UNHCR in Erbil on Thursday (December 1) to discuss the findings of a new ILO report, which examines the access of host communities and forcibly displaced persons to the labour market, employment, livelihood and training opportunities.

The one-day event brought together key government representatives, social partners, academia, and key stakeholders.

Participants reviewed the findings, which focused on international standards and legal frameworks related to rights to work and rights at work, business registration and access to finance, employment services, and access to vocational training.

They exchanged feedback on next steps in terms of recommendations that can support efforts to promote decent work for forcibly displaced and host community members in Iraq.

“Despite many challenges, Kurdistan Regional Government is taking efforts to strengthen social protection laws and work with the private sector for employment generation. The ILO has supported us with the capacity building and by providing inputs to our employment policies. We are proud of being able to provide equal treatment to internally displaced persons and refugees. We welcome these efforts improving access to our services,” said Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Zakia Syed Saleh.

Head of Relations at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Federal Goverment, Zeinab Fadhil, added: “We are coordinating with different ministries in the government and with civil society to support forcibly displaced persons. We hope to continue our collaboration and dialogue on the safe return and reintegration of displaced people.”

The report “Review of national policy, legislative and regulatory frameworks, and practice in Iraq” examines the extent to which communities affected by displacement in Iraq have access to the labour market at the institutional level, as well as the capacities of relevant actors, such as the government, institutions, partners, and NGOs to intervene effectively.

“It aims to establish a baseline situation in relation to the access of refugees and IDPs to the labour markets at the policy and institutional level,” explained ILO Country Coordinator for Iraq, Maha Kattaa. The report reflects on the gaps between policy and practice; and propose key recommendations that can support policy, legislation and regulatory development and reform.

“Such research and dialogues are important as policy interventions go hand-in-hand with the work on the ground to support the improvement of livelihoods. Improving self-reliance of refugees will improve their own prospects and will allow them to contribute to their host communities,” added Rochus Pronk, Deputy Ambassador for Government of the Netherlands in Iraq.

Mr Rochus Pronk, Deputy Ambassador of the Netherlands in Iraq addressed the audience virtually at the dialogue ©ILO/Zanyaar
The report forms part of a series of similar studies which are being conducted in different countries in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, by the ILO under the PROSPECTS Partnership, which is supported by the Government of the Netherlands. It will guide the implementation of activities under PROSPECTS and related programmes.

“We believe that the report and the dialogue is just a beginning to work towards finding solutions for a complex issue of extending labour market access to forcibly displaced persons. The ILO has a mandate to extend decent work opportunities to everyone and will continue to facilitate this dialogue in the future,” said Senior Adviser to the Deputy Director General-Policy at ILO, Tine Staermose.

Under the PROSPECTS partnership, ILO and UNHCR are working with UNICEF, the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank, to support the national agenda of promoting inclusion and socio-economic development. The partnership aims to empower forcibly displaced and host community members to meet their needs with a focus on three main pillars; education, employment and protection.