Why World Vision sees “moment of opportunity” in Syria response

By Kelli Rogers

The word “livelihood” was not something Fran Charles, advocacy director for World Vision’s Syria response, could comfortably say even a year ago when speaking with Jordanian authorities about the future of refugees in the country.

But there’s now a “moment of opportunity,” she told Devex, in terms of opening the formal labor market for refugees, who have most likely run out of any savings, to have access to a legal source of income.

“The government is very much forward-looking in terms of what they want to do,” she said, citing the Jordan Compact, a statement issued by Jordanian stakeholders involved in February’s Syria donors conference. The approach is anchored by three pillars, one of which hinges on turning the Syrian refugee crisis into a development opportunity that attracts investment and opens up the EU market, creating jobs for Jordanians and Syrian refugees.

Now that the door is open, “we have to support the government to make it a reality,” by looking at youth programming, vocational training and partnering with the private sector for job creation, Charles told Devex.

Fran Charles, advocacy director for World Vision’s Syria response, shares where World Vision is currently focusing Syria response advocacy efforts.

But the numbers for Syria — whether it’s the 13.5 million people within the country who need humanitarian assistance or the fact that now 4.6 million Syrians are refugees — have grown so much in the past five years that people have been left numb to the scale, Charles said.

Internationally, Charles is working to encourage people to put pressure on their own governments. Simply put, refugees need resettling, so ask whether your country is doing enough — or whether it is turning people away due to fear, she emphasized.

Charles also cited World Vision’s new report created in partnership with Frontier Economics entitled “Cost of Conflict for Children.” The report delves into the economic losses created by the crisis, like the $275 billion the war has already cost the Syrian economy and the estimated $1.3 trillion it would cost if the conflict continues to 2020.

But the report is also a way of demonstrating the urgency with which the international community must mobilize its collective influence, she said. With the right policy programs and access to livelihoods, refugees can help boost the economies of the countries hosting them, Charles pointed out.

Across Borders is a monthlong online conversation hosted by Devex and partners —World Vision, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department, the U.S. nonprofit partner of the International Organization for Migration and United Nations Volunteers — to analyze and amplify the discussion on global migration and current refugee crises through the lens of global security, development cooperation and humanitarian aid work, and more. Visit the campaign site and join the conversation on social media tagging @devex and #AcrossBorders.