What is the link if any between the countries of the MENA region?


From Morocco to Oman, apart from the obvious official language and religion, there is history.  In effect, it is the movement of people from the outer edges of the MENA that was always throughout millennia a common carrier upon which carriages would transport migrants away from danger and bad life.  So, what is the link if any between the countries of the MENA region?

Recent examples of mass movements of Syrians into Jordan, Turkey, and the European Union would be the most edifying sample.  More recently, Yemen despite its status as a poorer country compared to other Gulf ones went nevertheless through conflict with its neighbours and its populations had to flee away to its immediate adjacent countries.  Before that, there was the Libyan case where a large desert country with a small population did produce as it were some migrants mostly to Europe for the well offs and the neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt for the masses.

After more than half a century of migratory movements between the two shores of the Mediterranean, the North African migration system was definitively “formatted” as it still stands today: organically linked to France first, and then to Western Europe.

The Levant conflict and civil wars, and finally the crises and successive wars here and there since the 80s, have consequently forced the exodus of millions.  North African countries have in turn been affected, directly or indirectly, by these Middle Eastern crises.

But geopolitical issues are also not the only differentiator of these countries and apart from armed conflicts and/or civil unrest, oil and conflict are felt like the main drivers of migration to and from or within the MENA.

Climate change and its subsequent life deregulations are affecting its inhabitants.  Would this, despite all the goodwill of all the COPs and SDGs, affect the numbers and the flows?

Would all countries be subject to this culturally well-established custom since the Exodus from Egypt, to run away to search for better climes?

The above-featured image is of Wilson Center.

Qatar to act as U.S. diplomatic representative in Afghanistan


Reuters World came up with an Exclusive: Qatar to act as U.S. diplomatic representative in Afghanistan – official . It is by Humeyra Pamuk

The image above is for illustration and is of Reuters.

A military helicopter is pictured flying over Kabul, Afghanistan November 4, 2021.REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/File Photo

WASHINGTON, Nov 12 (Reuters) – The United States and Qatar have agreed that Qatar will represent the diplomatic interests of the United States in Afghanistan, a senior U.S. official told Reuters, an important signal of potential direct engagement between Washington and Kabul in the future after two decades of war.

Qatar will sign an arrangement with the United States on Friday to assume the role of “protecting power” for U.S. interests to help facilitate any formal communication between Washington and the Taliban government in Afghanistan, which the United States does not recognize.Report ad

The move comes at a time when the United States and other Western countries are grappling with how to engage with the Taliban after the hardline group took over Afghanistan in a lightning advance in August as U.S.-led forces were withdrawing after two decades of war.

Many countries including the United States and European states are reluctant to formally recognize the Taliban as critics say they are backtracking on pledges of political and ethnic inclusivity and not to sideline women and minorities.Report ad

But with winter approaching, many countries realize they need to engage more to prevent the deeply impoverished country from plunging into a humanitarian catastrophe.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will announce the deal with his Qatari counterpart Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani at a news conference after their meeting on Friday.

According to the arrangement, which will come into effect on Dec. 31, Qatar will dedicate certain staff from its embassy in Afghanistan to a U.S. Interests Section and will coordinate closely with U.S. State Department and with U.S. mission in Doha.

The U.S. official said the United States would also continue its engagement with the Taliban through the Qatari capital, Doha, where the Taliban have maintained a political office for years.

“As our protecting power, Qatar will assist the United States in providing limited consular services to our citizens and in protecting U.S. interests in Afghanistan,” said the senior State Department official, who spoke about the sensitive matter on the condition of anonymity.

Consular assistance may include accepting passport applications, offering notarial services for documentation, providing information, and helping in emergencies, the U.S. official said.

The U.S. Interests Section will operate out of certain facilities on the compound in Kabul used by the U.S. Embassy prior to the suspension of operations, the State Department official said, adding that Qatar would monitor the properties on the compound and conduct security patrols.

Millions of Afghans face growing hunger amid soaring food prices, a drought and an economy in freefall, fueled by a hard cash shortage, sanctions on Taliban leaders and the suspension of much financial aid.

The Taliban victory in August saw the billions of dollars in foreign aid that had kept the economy afloat abruptly switched off, with more than $9 billion in central bank reserves frozen outside the country.

In a separate agreement, Qatar will continue to temporarily host up to 8,000 at-risk Afghans who have applied for special immigrant visas (SIV) and their eligible family members, the U.S. official said.

“SIV applicants will be housed at Camp As Sayliyah and al-Udeid Air Base,” the official said.

The two decades-long U.S. occupation of Afghanistan culminated in a hastily organized airlift in August in which more than 124,000 civilians, including Americans, Afghans and others, were evacuated as the Taliban took over. But thousands of U.S.-allied Afghans at risk of Taliban persecution were left behind.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Additional reporting by Jonathan Landay, Editing by Robert Birsel


Why Syrian refugees have no negative effects on Jordan’s labour market


Jackline Wahba, Professor of Economics at the University of Southampton looks at the civil unrest in Syria direct implications on the country’s populations movements on one of the neighbouring countries, i.e. Jordan. Why Syrian refugees have no negative effects on Jordan’s labour market is a question in everybody’s mind since the start of the ensuing multilateral conflicts.

MikeDotta / Shutterstock.com

Forced displacement is a global challenge. The number of displaced people rose from 43m to 69m between 2007 and 2017, with the highest growth primarily due to the Syrian conflict, which started in 2011. Since then, more than 6.3m Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries and beyond. This humanitarian crisis has generated public sympathy as well as concern about the implications of such a massive flow of people.

Jordan, which shares a border with Syria, has experienced a substantial influx of refugees. Around 1.3m Syrians live in Jordan, which has a total population of just 6.6m. The impact of so many people on members of the host community is a subject of great importance and debate.

One area of particular concern tends to be the job market. Jordan gives a unique insight into this as it signed an agreement with the EU in 2016, agreeing to allow Syrian refugees to enter legal employment in return for humanitarian aid, financial assistance and trade concessions from the EU. Known as the Jordan Compact, I studied its effect on the Jordanian labour market with colleagues Belal Fallah and Caroline Krafft. We found that the compact did not have a negative effect on Jordanian jobs or wages.

Using data that represented the whole country, combined with information on where most refugees live (which is fairly concentrated in certain areas of the country), we were able to identify the effects that Syrians had on Jordanians’ job prospects by comparing Jordanians’ labour market outcomes before and after the Syrian influx.

We found that Jordanians living in areas with high concentrations of refugees had no worse labour market outcomes than Jordanians with less exposure to the refugee influx. This result held across all labour market outcomes, including unemployment levels, hours, wages and characteristics of employment (such as sector, occupation and whether the work was formal or informal).

Our findings contrast with most of the very recent literature on the impact of the Syrian refugee influx, which to date had been limited to evidence from Turkey. Here, research found that natives who were employed informally were affected by Syrian refugees. But the global literature generally finds a similar mix to our findings of refugees having no or small specific negative effects on native job markets. This could be due to the demographics of refugees in Turkey and the fact that refugees aren’t legally allowed to work there, among other reasons.

Little competition

There are several reasons why the massive influx of Syrian refugees has had a minimal impact on the job situation in Jordan. The demographics of the Syrians in Jordan may have played an important role. Almost half are under the age of 15 and only 23% of Syrian refugees in Jordan are in the labour force (45% of men and 4% of women).

The aim of the Jordan Compact was to provide 200,000 Syrian refugees access to work permits and formal work. But the take up of work permits by Syrians has been very low. According to Jordan’s Ministry of Labour, by the end of 2017 only 87,141 work permits to Syrians were issued. This means there are few Syrians competing in Jordan’s (formal) labour market, making their effect on the labour supply relatively small.

Despite the massive inflow of Syrian refugees, the number of non-Syrian immigrants has not decreased in Jordan over the same period of time. According to Jordan’s 2015 population census, Jordan hosted an additional 1.6m non-Syrian foreigners. Other research has shown that Syrians mainly compete with economic immigrants in the informal sector where they don’t get given contracts, such as construction and some sales jobs. Here there is limited competition between refugees and Jordanians.

Demand and supply

The inflow of foreign aid has also been a potential mechanism for creating jobs for Jordanians. To help address the needs of the Syrian refugees, Jordan has received foreign aid from multiple sources. This aid has been channelled to help offset the budget deficit, finance public projects and support public services such as schools, hospitals and transport nationwide. Both direct assistance to refugees and aid to the government can create jobs, the latter disproportionately in the government and public sectors.

Finally, the increase in demand for public services by refugees, in particular education and health, has resulted in the Jordanian government increasing the provision of those services, which in turn increased the demand for workers (almost exclusively Jordanians) in these sectors.

Overall our results suggest that providing legal work opportunities to refugees is not detrimental to the native job market. The inflow of foreign aid to Jordan to assist with some of the needs of refugees, as well as the conditions of the Jordan Compact, which included aid and trade concessions and employment support for Jordanians, may have played an important role in creating labour demand for Jordanians. So it is vital to ensure sufficient resources and public services are in place to support refugees and the host economy.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

20 June, World Refugee Day: A long way to safety


Maria Diaz Crego wrote in commemoration of 20 June, World Refugee Day: A long way to safety that :

According to UNCHR, those fleeing their own countries for fear of persecution travel collectively around two billion kilometres per year to reach a safe haven. To honour their resilience and determination and to remind us of the long and tortuous journeys they are forced to make on their way to safety, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has launched the www.stepwithrefugees.org campaign to mark 2019 World Refugee Day.

Meanwhile, a New paper: Teachers need support to better help migrant and refugee students suffering from trauma Posted on 20 June 2019 by GEM Report reads as follows:

Image: UNESCO/Seivan M.Salim

The number of migrant and refugee school-age children around the world has grown by 26% since 2000. Eight years on from the beginning of the Syrian conflict, a new paper released today and at an event in the Netherlands looks at the importance of making sure that education systems are set up to address the trauma that many of these children face before, and during their journeys to new countries. In particular, teachers need better training to provide psychosocial support to these children, including through social and emotional learning.

In Germany, about one-third of refugee children suffer from mental illness, and one-fifth suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Unaccompanied minors are particularly vulnerable. One third of 160 unaccompanied asylum seeking children in Norway from Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Somalia suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Among 166 unaccompanied refugee children and adolescents in Belgium, 37-47% had ‘severe or very severe’ symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD.

Rates of trauma among the displaced in low and middle income countries are also high. For instance, 75% of 331 internally displaced children in camps in southern Darfur in Sudan met diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder, and 38% had depression.

Image: Anthony Upton/ARETE/GEM Report

In the absence of health centres, schools can play a key role in restoring a sense of stability. Teachers are not and should never be leant on as mental health specialists, but they can be a crucial source of support for children suffering from trauma if they’re given the right training. But they need basic knowledge about trauma symptoms and providing help to students, which many do not have. NGOs, including the International Rescue Committee, iACT, and Plan International, are training teachers to face this challenge through their programmes, but their reach is not enough.

In Germany, the majority of teachers and day-care workers said that they did not feel properly prepared to address the needs of refugee children. In the Netherlands, 20% of teachers with more than 18 years of experience working in mainstream schools reported that they experienced a high degree of difficulty dealing with students with trauma. The vast majority of these teachers (89%) encountered at least one student with trauma in their work. A review of early childhood care and education facilities for refugee children in Europe and North America found that, although many programmes recognized the importance of providing trauma-informed care, appropriate training and resources were ‘almost universally lacking’.

The paper shows the importance of social and emotional learning, as an approach to psychosocial support which targets skills, such as resilience, to manage stress, and is often rolled out through interactive, group-based discussions or role play. It shows the importance of this approach for less acute situations but emphasizes that for more challenging cases trained specialists are needed.

It is also important to involve parents in social and emotional learning so that activities can continue at home. One programme in Chicago looked at addressing symptoms of depression among Mexican immigrant women and primary school children with in- and after- school programmes and home visits, for instance, and improved school work, child mental health and family communication.

Key recommendations:

  1. Learning environments must be safe, nurturing and responsive.
  2. Teachers working with migrant and refugee students who have suffered trauma face particular hardships and need training to cope with challenges in the classroom.
  3. Psychosocial interventions require cooperation between education, health and social protection services.
  4. Social and emotional learning interventions need to be culturally sensitive and adapted to context. They should be delivered through extra-curricular activities as well.
  5. Community and parental involvement should not be neglected.

Populations Migration across the Mediterranean Sea


An article of the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) posted on July 24, 2018 elaborates on the phenomenon of desperate populations migration across the Mediterranean Sea. These are desperate for a multitude of reasons that are all linked to unsurmountable situations in the countries of origin. Dynamics of migration across the Mediterranean a year ago, touched on these reasons but only from a European perspective. In any case, going by the map below, the situation as described in this article has certainly not improved; to the contrary it has gone worse to say the least.

The picture above is of Xinhua’s “People take to streets across America to protest Trump’s immigration policy” that could eventually mark a certain difference between the two worlds.

Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 53,269 in 2018; Deaths Reach 1,492


Geneva – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 53,269 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea through 22 July 2018. That total compares to 110,603 at this time last year, and 244,722 at this time in 2016.

Arrivals to Spain (see chart below) this month have overtaken those to Italy. To date just over 36 per cent of all Mediterranean irregular migrants have come via the Western Mediterranean route, whose irregular migration volume has more than tripled those registered at this time last year. 

Arrivals to Italy are nearly identical, but still trail Spain by just over 1,600 arrivals. Greece counts about 29 per cent of all arrivals. Significantly, Greece’s arrivals thus far in 2018 are running almost 5,000 ahead of last year’s totals on this date, an increase of better than 50 per cent. Arrivals to Italy, on the other hand, are down over 80 per cent compared to 2017 data.

IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo reported Thursday (19 July) that the number (3,136) of irregular migrant arrivals to Italy by sea in June this year was the lowest recorded by Italian authorities since 2014 (see chart below).

Nonetheless in the month of June the Central Mediterranean route linking Italy to North Africa recorded the highest number of June deaths along this channel in the past four years. In June 2018, some 564 migrants were reported drowned or missing in the waters between North Africa and Sicily. That compares with 529 in 2017, with 388 in 2016, five in 2015 and 314 in 2014. Through 18 July, 153 additional fatalities have been recorded on this route. 

OM’s Missing Migrants Project has documented the deaths of 1,492 men, women and children seeking to cross the Mediterranean in 2018 – more than half of those deaths since 1 June.
Most recently IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has documented the deaths of a woman and a man whose remains were recovered in Tajoura and Garabulli, Libya on 19 July. MMP also recorded a tragedy on the Turkey-Greece border, where a woman and her three children drowned in the Evros/Meriç river on 19 July. They were crossing the river with another five people in an attempt to reach Greece when their boat capsized. The bodies of the 36-year-old Turkish woman and her one-year-old son were recovered on 20 July on the Turkish side of the river, while a search and rescue operation is still underway to locate the remains of her two other children, aged 5 and 7.

IOM Libya’s Christine Petré on Monday (23 July) reported that over the weekend, 156 migrants were returned to Libyan soil by the Libyan Coast Guard.  On Saturday (21 July), 40 migrants (31 men, eight women, one child) were returned to Libyan shore after having embarked on a rubber boat in Zuwara. The migrants received IOM’s emergency assistance including food, water and health care including pregnancy check-ups for two women. One of the women was in critical condition and received first aid before being transferred to a nearby hospital. The migrants came from Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt and Syria. Following humanitarian assistance, each was transferred to Tajoura detention centre.

On Sunday (22 July), 116 migrants (111 men, five women) who left Libya on a rubber boat in Garaboli received IOM’s emergency assistance including food, water, health care and protection screenings after being intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard. Most of the migrants – from Sudan, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Chad, Egypt and Gambia – suffered from headaches, muscle pain and scabies. Those migrants also were transferred to Tajoura detention centre.
So far this year, 12,136 migrants have been returned to Libyan shore, Petré said.

IOM Madrid’s Ana Dodevska reported Monday that total arrivals at sea in 2018 have reached 19,586 men, women and children, irregular migrants who have been rescued in Western Mediterranean waters through 22 July, with nearly 1,000 arriving over the weekend. With this month’s figures Spain is the Mediterranean’s most-sought destination for irregular migrants traveling by sea, surpassing Italy and Greece.

Additionally, 3,125 migrants have attempted to enter Spain irregularly via the country’s African enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta, according to Spanish authorities.  

As remarkable as Spain’s rise in irregular migration activity has been through 2018, even more important is its recent surge. Over the year’s first five months, a total of 8,150 men, women and children were rescued in Spanish waters after leaving Africa – an average of 54 per day. In the 52 days since May 31, a total of 11,436 have arrived – or just under 220 migrants per day (see chart below).

IOM Athens’ Christine Nikolaidou said Monday that IOM has learned from the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) of at least three incidents requiring search and rescue operations between 19 and 22 July off the islands of Lesvos, Samos, and Chios. The HCG rescued a total of 87 migrants and transferred them to those islands. At least 245 landed on those same islands without intervention – plus 79 more on Kos, Megisti and Oinouses – bringing to 411 the total arrivals during those four days.

Through 22 July, the total number of sea arrivals to Greek territory since January 1 is 15,351.

April remains the busiest month for irregular migration by land and sea to Greece, with a total of 7,009 men, women and children arriving. February was the lowest with 1,610 (see charts below).

IOM’s Kristina Uzelac reported that almost 13,000 irregular migrants have been registered in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania between January and the second week of July 2018. Of those, some 70 per cent have been apprehended by the Bosnian police, a total of 9,035 as of 15 July 2018. One third of all migrants registered were from Pakistan (33 per cent). Syrian nationals represent the second largest nationality group (16 per cent) followed by migrants from Afghanistan (12 per cent), the Islamic Republic of Iran (12 per cent) and Iraq (9 per cent).

Considering the limited capacity of official reception centres in the country (120 in Asylum and 100 in the Closed Reception centre), majority of migrants must stay in alternative shelters, mainly in the north-western part of the country, near the border with Croatia. IOM mobile teams have assisted more than 1,600 individuals with transportation, legal counsel, interpreter services, and medical referrals.

Reported arrivals to Albania are stable with estimated 38 to 40 apprehensions on entry into the country on a weekly basis. As of 14 July, authorities in Albania registered 1,305 irregular migrants on entry to the country and another 651 who were intercepted exiting the country to Montenegro.

Registered migrants are predominantly Syrian, Pakistani and Iraqi. Since 1 January, an estimated 2,283 irregular migrants have entered Montenegro, mainly from Albania. Almost half of all migrants were of Syrian origin (44 per cent). Pakistani nationals were the second largest group comprising 18 per cent of the overall arrivals, followed by Algerian (11 per cent) and Iraqi (7 per cent) nationals.

According to available data, irregular entries to Croatia and Slovenia also have increased between January and June 2018 when compared with the same period in 2017. In Croatia, Border Police reported 2,552 irregular entries this year, a 97 per cent increase compared to 1,297 reported in the same period last year and 11 per cent more than the total of 2,292 reported for the whole 2017.

Data from Slovenian Ministry of Interior indicate a four-fold increase in irregular entries between the second quarter of 2017 and 2018. At the end of June 2018, there were 3,266 registered irregular entries versus 748 reported at the end of June 2018 (1,930 reported in the whole of 2017). Available nationality breakdown indicates that the majority of intercepted migrants in both countries are from Pakistan, Algeria, Turkey, Syrian Arab Republic and Afghanistan.

According to available data from the official website of the Croatian Ministry of Interior, there were at least 13 incidents related to migrant smuggling in the past two months. The Croatian police arrested 21 people under suspicion of human smuggling. Arrested individuals were from Austria, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Syrian Arab Republic, Pakistan, Iraq, Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, proving the international character of the smuggling networks operating in the region.

Worldwide, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has documented the deaths of 2,255 people while migrating in 2018 (see chart below).

Besides the Mediterranean region, MMP reported that in the Horn of Africa, at least five people drowned in the Gulf of Aden when the boat in which they were travelling with 160 people capsized off the coast of Yemen on 19 July. The remains of two women and one man were retrieved in Al Shoghayrat, Shabwa Governorate, Yemen, while according to survivors’ testimonies, two men remain missing.

On the US-Mexico border, three people died recently while trying to cross into the United States. According to the Mexican Consulate in Eagle Pass, the remains of a 40-year-old man, of unknown identity, were found in a ranch near Carrizo Springs, Texas on 19 July. The day after, Mexican civil protection authorities recovered the body of a young man from the Río Bravo/Grande, near the second international bridge in Piedras Negras, Coahuila. On 21 July, after receiving a distress call, US Border Patrol officers found the body of a 34-year-old Guatemalan man who had died of dehydration in a ranch near Hebbronville, Texas.

In Mexico, a young migrant was killed by a freight train on 19 July. He was severely injured after falling from the top of the train in which he was travelling north to the US border, and died at the hospital in Saltillo, Coahuila a few hours later.
Missing Migrants Project data are compiled by IOM staff but come from a variety of sources, some of which are unofficial. To learn more about how data on migrants’ deaths and disappearances are collected, click 

For latest arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean, please visit: http://migration.iom.int/europe
Learn more about the Missing Migrants Project at:

For more information, please contact:
Joel Millman at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 79 103 8720, Email:
Flavio Di Giacomo, IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean, Italy, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email:
Hicham Hasnaoui, IOM Morocco, Tel: + 212 5 37 65 28 81, Email:
Atigoni Avgeropoulou, IOM Greece, Tel :   +30 210 99 19 040 ext. 166; M. +30 69 48 92 98 09, Email:
Kelly Namia, IOM Greece, Tel: +30 210 991 2174, Email:
Ivona Zakoska, IOM Regional DTM, Austria, Tel: + +43 1 5812222, Email:
Julia Black, IOM GMDAC, Germany, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email:
Christine Petré, IOM Libya, Tel: +216 29 240 448, Email:
Ana Dodevska, IOM Spain. Tel: +34 91 445 7116, Email:
Myriam Chabbi, IOM Tunisia, Mobile: +216 28 78 78 05, Tel: +216 71 860 312 (Ext 109 ), Email: