Unrest from the Syrian civil war has led to a mass exodus of refugees seeking safety in more stable countries. While Jordan currently hosts the highest number of Syrian refugees, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates some 1.1 million Syrians have crossed into Lebanon for sanctuary as well, testing the country’s infrastructure and generosity.
Refugees tend to be single men who have quickly run through any savings they might have brought with them, and are unable to find work because of residence visas issues,according to the International Relief & Development, a nonprofit nongovernmental organization responsible for implementing relief, stabilization and development programs worldwide.
An estimated 1.1 million Syrians have crossed into Lebanon for sanctuary.
However, the Entrepreneurship for Refugees, or EfR, program is working to help get refugees job training and access to employment opportunities. The EfR is run by International Relief and Development with funding from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.
The EfR program registers refugees for the Lebanese job market and offers them vocational training according to market needs. The program emphasizes job training for male and female heads of household that is directly linked to workforce requirements to help get refugees into jobs quickly.
The refugees are trained in small groups of up to 10 and receive hands-on training for about a month. The organization then places successful graduates with local businesses.
The ultimate goal of the program is to benefit both the large numbers of people displaced by war and the Lebanese economy.
Graduates have been placed in a number of small businesses, including a fruit and vegetable packaging plant, a water catchment pond and a Morning Star women’s food cooperative. The program is also funding the expansion of a vineyard, which is expected to provide jobs for 1,000 Lebanese and 640 refugee farmers.
“Syria has become the worst humanitarian tragedy of our time,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres in a written statement. “What Lebanon is doing is an example of hospitality and protection for which the whole world is grateful.”