University of Bath

Tackling the causes for flight? The changing features and effects of German refugee policy in Jordan

This project seeks to investigate German refugee policies relating to the Syrian crisis in Jordan.

The Jordan Compact

Over the course of 2016, Germany became the second largest bilateral donor in Jordan after the US, with an aid volume of £357 million for humanitarian and development projects. This rise in relevance relates directly to the Syrian refugee crisis and Germany's commitment to the 'Jordan Compact', an agreement that trades substantial donor commitments for opening up the Jordanian labour market to Syrian refugees.

Changing direction

German humanitarian and developmental interventions have, however, not only increased in volume but also changed in focus. There is now a persistent attempt to pursue humanitarian and developmental goals simultaneously, primarily by providing employment and income-generating opportunities to Syrians, as well as Jordanians.

At the same time, more traditional humanitarian and developmental interventions have been maintained. The stated aims to stabilise Jordan as a major refugee hosting country, and to assist Syrian refugees, are part of a broader attempt to ‘tackle the causes for flight’, the title of one of the most prominent German initiatives in the field. This, in turn, is part of the wider political strategy to prevent further migration to Germany.

Understanding Germany’s policies in Jordan

This transformation and its effects had not been subject to substantial analysis. This project therefore sought to understand the changing features and effects of German refugee policy in Jordan.

It asked what these interventions actually do, for example, what their political purposes and effects are. Thereby, it contributes to a better understanding of the role major donors play in the Syrian response.

German-led or funded interventions in Jordan provided a particularly interesting case for such analysis, given their significance, their emphasis on ‘push’ factors, and their attempts to bring together humanitarian and development approaches.

Research objectives

The pilot research had three main objectives:

  • it sought to gauge the scope of German-led and/or -funded humanitarian and developmental interventions pertaining to the Syrian crisis in Jordan, and assess how they relate to previous forms of intervention in these fields
  • it attempted to understand the social life of German refugee policy by identifying and looking in more depth at the practices of two select employment-oriented programmes
  • it looked to create a network for and around a larger research project that investigates the co-evolution of German refugee policies and refugee governance in the Middle East

Project outputs

One-day roundtable in Amman with relevant stakeholders from among German, Jordanian and other agencies active in the region in September 2017. The roundtable sought to disseminate and discuss first results of pilot fieldwork (conducted in August/September 2017 by the Principal Investigator), facilitate engagement between academia and practitioners, and discuss ideas for a larger, comparative grant proposal in the future. A roundtable report was then disseminated more widely among stakeholders to facilitate sustained dialogue about the project.

Publication of a brief report about the fieldwork and the roundtable for the 2019 Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL) bulletin.

A research paper was submitted to a leading forum for academic and professional discussions around refugee issues, in order to disseminate research findings to both academic and non-academic user-groups.

A larger grant proposal was developed on the co-evolution of German refugee policy and refugee governance in the Middle East, which builds on substantial stakeholder engagement.

Project team

Project funder

Council for British Research in the Levant