Yvette Burghgraef-van Eechoud, Dutch ambassador to Qatar said, at whose residence the meeting took place, said: “The group showed a very high level of commitment, expertise and trust. These are the basic ingredients for finding the right solutions for both refugees and the communities that are hosting them.”
The meeting addressed many topics regarding the current situation of refugees such as: innovative programmes and policies that can be introduced to enable refugees to carry out business activities whilst at the same time, not having a negative impact on the host country’s economy.
Employment and entrepreneurship programmes and policies are the most appropriate and successful contributors to livelihood improvements in conflict-affected areas and what can be done to ensure or create an enabling environment where some economic development and livelihood generating activities can take place in conflict-affected areas.
Silatech CEO Mohammed Al Naimi said: ‘Our vision to have an Arab world in which young people are able to work and are engaged in the economic development of their societies came as a response to the challenge of unemployment in the region and led to the establishment of Silatech to connect Arab youth to economic opportunities and jobs through enterprise and employment.”
He added: “The region is experiencing unprecedented instability with ongoing conflicts and political upheaval affecting multiple countries for the past five years. We hope this meeting is another step in a journey towards unlocking effective partnerships, programmatic interventions and policy recommendations that contribute to providing sustainable solutions to the complex issue at hand.”
Michel Richter, co-director of SPARK, said: “Our programmes for Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan funded by the Dutch government and Education Above All Foundation are an important step, but more needs to be done in terms of business development and job creation for this group.”
He emphasised the need to capitalise on the brainpower and experience mobilised at the meeting. Richter stressed there remains much to learn and gain in terms of what works and what does not work and urged for the development of concrete and practical initiatives that can be rapidly deployed.
This requires the involvement of organisations present at the meeting such as the UNHCR, ILO, Qatar Red Crescent, International Medical Corps, Silatech and SPARK as well as relevant private sector and government actors.
The attendees shared best practices from various types of employment and entrepreneurship initiatives that played a vital role in improving livelihoods which contributed to fostering social stability for refugees and others.
One of the potential initiatives that had been explored in depth was the establishment of free economic zones that would facilitate Syrian investors and entrepreneurs to continue and start their businesses, creating employment and business linkages involving both Syrian refugees and host communities.