On 24 September 2019, seven Permanent Representatives to Rome-based United Nations agencies visited Syrian refugees taking part in FAO’s vocational training programme in Şanliurfa. The FAO delegation, comprised of representatives from Bangladesh, Brazil, Eritrea, the European Union, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and the United States of America, met with participants and witnessed first-hand the achievements from an employment creation project financed by the Government of Japan.
Representatives acknowledged the opportunity the agricultural training programme has provided for Syrian refugees to acquire skills and knowledge to take up new jobs. “We are very pleased to see that the beneficiaries have a job as a result of these trainings. The project is particularly gratifying as it has created employment opportunities for Syrian refugees” the Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to FAO, Mohammed Ahmed Alghamdi stated.
On the occasion of the visit, FAO organized a certificate distribution ceremony to celebrate the achievements of the trainees, where Representatives took part in distributing the certificates. İlham Abdurrauf, a Syrian beneficiary, praised the training programme for helping him develop agricultural skills and ultimately land a job. “We learned different aspects of agriculture like how to plant and harvest. We were also able to find seasonal jobs. I’m currently working in a pepper field.”
The programme, implemented jointly by FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, has also promoted self-reliance in Syrian refugees and provided them access to the local job market. Furthermore, the programme has also strengthened the relationship between refugee and local communities. Kasım Akyol, a beneficiary of the vocational training, expressed his gratitude to the authorities for the opportunity. “We did not have such knowledge about vegetable production before. Thanks to this training, we are currently working in pepper fields”, he added. Emphasizing the importance of the training, Alghamdi said, “they [asylum seekers] suffer harsh living conditions. The training opportunity was important. But, so was enabling them to find a job,” he explained.
The delegation also visited Harranatura Food Processing Company to observe the achievements obtained through the engagement with the private sector in the scope of the European Union-funded project “Increase self-reliance and improve agricultural livelihoods of refugees through employment opportunities”.
The project was jointly implemented by FAO and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. During the visit, the delegation met with company owners who represented the private sector with the aim of increasing access to work for Syrians in Turkey. The owners agreed that there is a great need for skilled labour, and thanks to this programme, they were able to find skilled workers.