The 4th Session of IIAS West Asia and North Africa Lecture Series | Migration and Refugee Issues in the Middle East and North Africa
On the afternoon of June 17th, 2021, the fourth and last session of IIAS West Asia and North Africa Lecture Series was launched online, with the theme of “Migration and Refugee Issues in the Middle East and North Africa”. The lecture was presented by Prof. Ibrahim Awad, Professor of Practice in Global Affairs and Director, Center for Migration and Refugee Studies, School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, at the American University in Cairo, and hosted by Duan Jiuzhou, Assistant Professor at Institute for International and Area Studies, Tsinghua University (IIAS-THU).
This lecture focused on four aspects. First of all, Prof. Awad introduced four categories of Arabian countries, including Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Maghreb, Mashreq and Least Developed Countries (LDCs), which are at different levels of development, with different fiscal revenues, population and economic diversification.
In the second part, Prof. Awad elaborated the flow of international migrants from four aspects, namely neoclassicism, dual labor market, world system and Internet. He mentioned that refugee movements were caused by political problems that led to violence and discrimination. He also vividly illustrated the characteristics of immigrants in the Arab region and the distribution of immigrants and refugees in various countries through charts and graphs. He emphasized that the GCC countries are one of Top 10 destinations for regional immigrants in 2017. Since 1990, the Arab region has been characterized by more international immigrants and refugees living in Arab countries than Arab nationals living abroad. About half of the immigrants and refugees in the region come from Maghreb countries.
Next, he pointed out the causes leading to the flow of immigrants and refugees, including economic and social factors, regional wars and conflicts, environmental and natural resources, and promotion and mediation. Then, Prof. Awad reviewed the immigration history of the Arab region in two periods, i.e., immigration to the GCCcountries and immigration to Europe. He explained that labor migration originates from the necessity and deficiency of regional and global economy, which is conducive to maintaining the demand for labor in business activities, but meanwhile, it will also lead to inequality in development and wealth distribution.
Afterwards, Prof. Awad focused on the refugee situation in the Arab region, pointing out that the refugee situation is caused by political conflicts, which are multifaceted in the region. Among the refugees caused by inter-country conflicts, only a few have been resettled, while most of them remain in their first countries of asylum or are widespread across the region and seek protection. Take the Syrian refugee issue as an example. Since 2015, Syria has become the largest source of Arab immigrants and refugees. So far, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey have the largest number of Syrian refugees.
Finally, Prof. Awad concluded that the refugee issues result from the failure of the political system in the countries of origin, which will impose a negative impact on the region and the international community as a whole.
Ibrahim Awad is at present Professor of Practice in Global Affairs and Director, Center for Migration and Refugee Studies, School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, at the American University in Cairo. He holds a BA degree in political science from Cairo University and a Ph.D degree in political science from the Graduate Institute of International Studies, University of Geneva, Switzerland. He has worked for the League of Arab States, the United Nations and the International Labour Organization, holding positions of Secretary of the Commission, UN-ESCWA, Director, ILO Sub-regional Office for North Africa and Director, ILO International Migration Programme. He currently is Chair of the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD), hosted by the World Bank, Chair of the Steering Committee of the Euro-Mediterranean Research Network on International Migration (EuroMedMig) and Senior Fellow at the Migration Policy Centre (MPC) of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. He also serves on the editorial boards of several academic journals.
Text by: Wang Zijing
Typesetting by: Wang Zijing
Reviewed by: Duan Jiuzhou & Zhang Yuan