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Social Protection in Syria - Chronicle

Street vendor in al-Hamidiya Souk in Damascus (Photo HH)

The structure of the Syrian labour market and the large number of jobs in the informal economy (estimated at 40 percent, see Informal sector) leaves a majority of workers without basic forms of social protection. The majority of these unprotected workers are women, who are often exposed to financial, economic, and social risks and vulnerability resulting from their need to find employment and generate income. In addition, the number of migrant workers increased following the adoption of the law for the employment of migrant domestic workers in 2006, which allowed Syrians to employ foreign domestic workers. They have very little protection under Syrian law because their employment, though legal, is not regulated (Decent Work Country Programme Syria, ILO).

Civil servants, and all those employed by a state organization, benefit from a health care plan and other forms of social protection. People employed in the private sector may have some form of social protection, but it is often minimal. The ILO further writes: ‘Social protection and social safety nets to protect the vulnerable are not targeting the needed population. The existing social safety net is costly and inefficient. It cannot manage the poverty risks deriving from the country’s economic transition process. (…) The social security system, which is the oldest in the Arab region and which covers public and private sector employees for pensions and work injury, is facing severe challenges that will compromise its medium-term viability.’

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