Veronique Barbelet, Jessica Hagen-Zanker and Dina Mansour-Ille
• In February 2016, a new approach to dealing with protracted displacement was signed: the Jordan Compact. In return for billions of dollars in grants and loans and preferential trade agreements with the European Union (EU), Jordan committed to improving access to education and legal employment for its Syrian refugees.
• The Compact showed that, by building on existing political capital between donor governments, international organisations and host governments, as well as economic and political incentives such as trade deals, a restrictive policy environment can be opened up and funds can be mobilised in a short space of time.
• While considerable progress has been made, challenges remain:
• The Compact design did not integrate refugee perspectives at the outset; as such, it has been slow to improve their daily lives.
• Financial support has increased school enrolment, but large numbers still remain out of school due to financial barriers and the quality of services provided.
• Progress has been made in work permits issued, but critical sectors and self-employment remain closed to refugees.
• Indicators measuring progress should focus on the extent to which they improve the lives of refugees.
• Donor governments, host governments and international organisations currently considering new refugee compacts should start with what refugees need and want, and be realistic about what such arrangements can achieve.
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