E.g., 06/18/2024
E.g., 06/18/2024
Middle East & North Africa

Middle East & North Africa

The Middle East and North Africa span both poles of migration: as countries of migrant destination, particularly in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and as countries of migrant origin. The region has a large supply of young, active workers, with millions working elsewhere in the region or in Europe. The research here focuses on labor and humanitarian migration to and from the region, including the policies and regulations that govern such migration, protection and integration issues for the region's refugees, diaspora engagement, migration cooperation and reintegration agreements with European governments, and more.

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Egyptians in Los Angeles

From being a source of labor emigration to the Gulf region to a destination for refugees from Syria, sub-Saharan Africa, and elsewhere, Egypt has long experienced different forms of mobility. This article, which profiles the trends and policies that have shaped Egypt's migration history, focuses on its long-standing use of migration as a soft-power tool to achieve its foreign policy aims and as a safety valve for political discontent.

EgyptianWoman BenPiven Flickr

In 2016, nearly 1.2 million immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region lived in the United States. MENA immigration has picked up in recent decades, owing to war and worsening economic prospects. This article offers the latest data on the MENA population in the United States, which is more likely to come via humanitarian routes and less likely via family reunification than the foreign-born population overall.

 

Migrants on a boat

European leaders in 2017 pursued migration partnerships with North African countries, seeking to stem maritime arrivals across the Mediterranean. Italy struck a deal with Libya to provide support in cracking down on illegal migration and smugglers, while Germany signed cooperation agreements with Egypt and Tunisia. Meanwhile, widespread reports of migrant abuse in Libya are prompting questions about the limitations and human costs of these partnerships.

South Sudanese refugee girl

Millions of displaced people were unable to return home in 2017, and countless others found themselves newly displaced. Targeted violence in Myanmar caused more than 624,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh, and conflict in South Sudan drove at least 668,000 abroad. Some first-asylum countries, such as Uganda and Turkey, were largely accommodating, while others, such as Jordan and Lebanon, pressured refugees to leave.

A Syrian refugee woman uses a special e-card to purchase food at a grocery store in Turkey.

Turkey has been on the frontlines of the Syrian refugee crisis from the beginning. The vast majority of Turkey's nearly 3.2 million Syrian asylum seekers live in cities, putting pressure on the limited resources and legal authority of local governments to serve them. This article examines Istanbul's creative approaches to meeting the needs of this vulnerable population while balancing the concerns of local citizens.

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Libya was once a prized destination for workers from around the world. But after Muammar Gaddafi’s overthrow in 2011, the country became the transit point for hundreds of thousands of Europe-bound asylum seekers and other migrants. Following Libya's 2017 deal with Italy to detain and return migrants caught at sea—which was renewed in February 2020—migrants became trapped in an unstable country, facing harrowing realities, as this article explores.

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Israel has a remarkably open immigration system for anyone who can prove Jewish ethnicity. But as this country profile explores, migration is extremely difficult for non-Jews, including asylum seekers. This article describes immigration flows under the Law of Return and examines labor migration and the rise in asylum seekers, reviewing the main challenges that have emerged within the last three decades.

 

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Authoritarian states have long attempted to restrict citizens’ movement. But what happens when their reach extends beyond their borders? The October 2018 assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi brought into sharp relief the long arm of these regimes in reaching citizens abroad. This phenomenon, “transnational authoritarianism,” further shows that the relationship between migration and authoritarianism is becoming more complex.

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China has been Africa’s largest trading partner since 2009, and as commerce and investment have increased, so have flows of people in both directions. With an estimated 1 million to 2 million Chinese migrants across Africa, some countries have relaxed their short-term visa requirements in hopes of facilitating cultural and business exchanges. High levels of Chinese investment do not, however, correlate with more liberal visa policies, as this article explores.

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Long a country of emigration and a springboard for migrants aiming to reach Europe, Morocco has emerged as a destination for many sub-Saharan Africans. As more migrants remain in Morocco, the kingdom has implemented policies to aid with integration. But challenges remain, with most of the estimated 700,000 sub-Saharan Africans living in precarious conditions and irregular status despite some legalization programs.

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Even with the collapse of the Islamic State's "caliphate," thousands of Western foreign fighters are estimated to remain in the Middle East. Deciding how to handle the return of the radicalized—and their dependents—is no easy issue. Some countries seek to revoke their citizenship. Yet citizenship revocation has unclear impact and raises deep questions about the limits of a state’s responsibility to its citizens, as this article explores.

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Lebanon is home to more refugees per capita than any other country. The arrival of approximately 1 million refugees from neighboring Syria has created tensions not only with the native population, but also with long-established Palestinian refugee communities in Lebanon. A lack of integration and resources, plus a complex domestic context, suggest further hardship may lie ahead for recent and earlier-arrived refugees alike.

Policy Briefs
February 2019

Development actors are well positioned to help close the gap in refugee protection system capacity that exists between high-income countries and those that have fewer resources. With 85 percent of the world's refugees in low- or middle-income countries that lack the means to support them fully, strengthening protection systems would benefit from new thinking and tapping the expertise of well-placed actors to assure a more comprehensive approach.

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