Migration Policy Institute - Middle East & North Africa
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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.
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.
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.
This event marked the launch of New York Times reporter Jason DeParle's book tracing the arc of migration as a phenomenon, witnessed through three decades observing a particular Filipino family moving from Manila to Texas. The conversation explored both the human and policy aspects of migration and development.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
War and impending famine in Yemen have captured significant attention. Yet often overlooked is the country’s role as the epicenter of one of the world’s busiest mixed migration routes, linking Africa, Asia, and Europe. This article examines the migration pathways to and through the country, push and pull factors, and the impact of civil war on human movement.
Questions of how, when, and under what conditions migrants and asylum seekers can be returned to their origin countries have featured prominently in international discussions of migration in 2018. Crucially, so too has an increased interest on the part of both destination and origin countries in making reintegration assistance more effective to help ensure that return is sustainable.
Despite long study of famine, there is a remarkable lack of research about the linkages between mass starvation and migration. Among the unanswered questions: Does migration mitigate starvation or worsen it? With famines returning, most notably in war-torn Yemen, after a period of decline, the need for knowledge is essential. This article examines the causes and migration patterns of great famines from the 19th century onward.
In the face of an uptick in unauthorized arrivals in Italy from Tunisia in 2017, the European Union dusted off earlier policy proposals such as funding to increase Tunisia’s border-control capabilities and the creation of disembarkation platforms. This article explores why contemporary developments, including a fragile Tunisian political system, suggest the need for a different approach.
Migrants displaced by crisis do not benefit from international protection the way that refugees do. This article examines the experiences of labor migrants amid manmade and natural disasters in the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Lebanon, Libya, South Africa, and Thailand, as well as stakeholder responses. Research demonstrates the agency and resilience of migrants, who develop flexible solutions in the face of crisis.
In Kuwait and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries, migrants make up a significant share of the private-sector workforce. While mainstream narratives commonly focus on the exploitation and abuse some of these migrant workers experience, their lives and relationships with the native born are much more complex and less unequal than is often perceived, as this article explores.
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.
European leaders have settled on a recurring proposition to address the ongoing political crisis on migration: the creation of asylum processing centers beyond EU borders. The plans championed by various EU leaders are diverse, the details fuzzy. What they have in common is a near-universal focus on shifting responsibility for dealing with refugees and migrants upstream, as this commentary examines.
This useful online guide links users directly to the most credible, high-quality data on immigrants and immigration in the United States and internationally. The easy-to-use guide includes more than 220 data resources compiled by governmental and nongovernmental sources, covering topics ranging from population stock and flow numbers to statistics on enforcement, public opinion, religious affiliation, and much more.
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.
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.