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I speak on behalf of the EU and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Montenegro*, Serbia* as well as Georgia align themselves with this Statement.
We welcome the outcome of the tripartite technical meeting held in July on “the access of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons to the labour market”.
These guiding principles based on human rights will remind us of our responsibility as ILO members to promote decent work for all. They will also be useful when formulating national and regional policies, as well as action plans.
We acknowledge that forced displacement has a severe impact not only on refugees and their families, but also on host communities. As recognized in the guiding principles, it is crucial to address the needs of both refugees and their host communities.
Moreover, as more refugee crises become protracted, we need to move from aid dependency to self-reliance, enabling refugees to live in dignity as contributors to their host societies, until a sustainable solution is found.
We recognize the potential of refugees to actively contribute to and participate in the economy and society of host countries and communities. In this regard, access to labour markets is of crucial importance. As such, we note the importance given in the guiding principles to skills recognition, development or strengthening of labour market institutions and programmes that could support local integration, resettlement, voluntary repatriation and reintegration and pathways for labour mobility enabling admission and responsibility-sharing among countries.
As highlighted in the Office’s background paper for the tripartite technical meeting, not allowing refugees to work may result in an increase in the informal economy with negative consequences, such as child labour, forced labour, exploitative forms of work and increased tensions between host community and refugees.
We welcome the emphasis on a strengthened humanitarian-development nexus in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, and the encouragement for host countries to take measures to foster self-reliance and expand opportunities for refugees to access livelihood opportunities and labour markets, based on shared responsibility and international cooperation, while taking into account of existing contributions and the differing capacities and resources among States. We also welcome the "jobs compacts" that have been announced in New York, with the aim of creating job opportunities, for both refugees and the host communities.
We consider that the ILO has a role to play in contributing to the implementation of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework and to the development of the future Global Compact for Refugees, and that cooperation to this end will include a full range of activities, including the enhancement of self-reliance of refugees.
Indeed, the ILO can be a key actor in improving the response to protracted displacement situations through assisting in developing more appropriate, long-term approaches, focused on enhancing self-reliance and resilience. Some important projects are already taking place in partnership with host countries. We welcome the recent MoU between UNHCR and the ILO which aims at promoting employment possibilities for refugees, and we look forward to the finalization of the Plan of Action related to this MoU.
Chair, for all these reasons, we support the decision point.
*The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.