Decent work for Migrants in the Middle East


Migrant workers and refugees face obstacles to access decent work in the Middle East, one of the largest migrant hosting regions, which limits their ability to contribute to their countries of origin and destination. To maximize benefits of migration and reduce harm, Switzerland engages various public and private stakeholders for the promotion of decent working conditions in Jordan, Lebanon and the Gulf, through access to justice, migrant empowerment and addressing worker welfare in the green and just transition.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Jordan
Lebanon
Migration
Gender
Labour migration
Women’s equality organisations and institutions
Forced displacement (refugees, IDP, human trafficking)
01.10.2023 - 30.09.2027
CHF  5’150’000
Background

The Middle-East is globally one of the largest migrant hosting regions with more than 41.4 mio migrants and refugees (mixed migration). Although migrant workers make up the largest group in the Arab States, nearly 9.3 million refugees have sought protection in the region. For both migrants and refugees, access to decent work opportunities is vital, as it ensures sustainable income for their communities left home so as their self-reliance at destination and throughout their migration journey. In spite of important human rights violations and decent work deficits in the region, more than a quarter of global remittance outflows come from the region.

In spite of the increased international scrutiny, mainly triggered by the Syrian response and mega-events in the Gulf States (Expo, World Cup), and a wave of reforms to labor migration policies in recent years, migrant workers remain largely barred from participation in society, and inadequately protected from right abuses. Pressure on governments and businesses has positively led to changes in policies and some practices, but a lack of transparency and consistent enforcement mean these measures fall short of realising sustainable solutions and systemic change. In line with the MENA strategy, the Swiss engagement is fostering decent work in the region both in a sustainable development and human rights perspective. Geographically it focuses on:
a) Jordan and Lebanon, subject to multiple crisis and hosting labor migrants so as the largest number of refugees as a proportion of their populations globally.
b) On the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC), as major labor migration hub that attracts more than 30 mio migrants from Asia and increasingly from Africa. 

Objectives Migrants, incl. refugees, have improved working conditions so as access to labor rights in the Middle East and can thereby increase their contribution to sustainable development  
Target groups
  • Workers in low-wage sectors in Jordan and Lebanon, including migrant workers, refugees and working poor nationals (inclusive & cohesive approach) 
  • Migrant workers from Asia and Africa in the Gulf 

Indirect beneficiaries: national governments (origin and host countries), regional inter-governmental bodies (i.e. Abu Dhabi Dialogue, inter-regional dialogue mechanisms with Africa and Asia), the private sector, so as local actors, civil society / migrant-led movements, academia

Medium-term outcomes

Outcome 1: Policy frameworks, including their implementation, are improved for increased workers welfare and decent work of migrants in the Middle East

Outcome 2: Migrant workers, particularly women, are empowered, better organised and positioned nationally and regionally to address discriminative policies & practices on the labor market and advocate for structural and behavioural change

Outcome 3: Migrants, refugees and underprivileged nationals get access to social & economic justice and their labor rights are protected at place of destination as per their specific profile and migration journey 

Results

Expected results:  

  • Policy dialogue, programming and regional platforms are informed by reliable data and relevant grounded-research on decent work and labor migration 
  • Women migrant workers, in particular domestic workers, are trained and equipped (self-advocacy, media skills, safety, networking) to fight for their rights 
  • Private sector and employers improve work conditions of migrants as part of the transition to green economy 
  • Local organisations provide legal assistance to (migrant) workers and improve their organisational capacity and advocacy to better fulfil their mission


Results from previous phases:  

  • More than 10’000 migrant workers (70% F) have raised their awareness on labor rights and received legal assistance & representation in Jordan, Lebanon, Bahrain and Qatar 
  • 48 supported social enterprises have provided jobs, services and products to more than 17’000 migrants & refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt 
  • Critical decent work gaps such as occupational health and safety, access to end of service or health benefits incl. access to vaccination since Covid-19 crisis have been addressed thanks to national, regional and interregional engagements 
  • Memorandum of Understanding with Qatar allowed to leverage the Swiss expertise 
  • Digital remittance corridor established between Jordan and Bangladesh; 2’600 women migrant workers (garment sector) gained financial & digital literacy; 1000 sent money home more efficiently and safely 


Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Project partners Contract partner
International or foreign NGO
Private sector
United Nations Organization (UNO)
  • International Organisation for Migration
  • Other international or foreign NGO North
  • Foreign private sector South/East
  • Local actors, migrants’ network: Justice Centre for Legal Aid, Tamkeen, Anti-Racism Movement, Solidarity Centre; NGOs/think tanks: Institute for Human Rights & Business, Friends of Majal


Coordination with other projects and actors Programmatic complementarities with other SMFD programs and all Swiss WoGA engagements in or relevant to ME.
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    5’150’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    811’074 Budget inclusive project partner CHF    10’170’000 Total project since first phase Swiss budget CHF   21’786’499 Budget inclusive project partner CHF   27’000’000
Project phases Phase 4 01.10.2023 - 30.09.2027   (Current phase) Phase 3 15.07.2019 - 31.10.2024   (Current phase) Phase 2 01.01.2015 - 31.12.2019   (Completed) Phase 1 01.05.2012 - 31.07.2015   (Completed)