Middle East and North Africa (MENA)
At present, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is the largest region in terms of producing and hosting refugees. According to the latest statistics of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Syrian Arab Republic continues to be the country producing the highest number of refugees worldwide (6.6 million), the majority among them fled to countries of the region. Turkey is hosting the largest number while Lebanon and Jordan host the highest number of refugees relative to population size. Sessions will be hosted by the Centre for Migration and Refugee Studies at the American University in Cairo.
Session 1: Legal and Policy Frameworks in Refugee Hosting Countries: Perspectives from the MENA region
09:00-06:30 CET / 10:00-11:30 EET
This panel aims to shed light on how the objectives of UNHCR Statute have been pursued in the MENA region. It will review the extent to which the current legal and policy frameworks for displacement have evolved over the past few years, and how they have contributed to advancing the refugee protection agenda and upholding a right-based approach in policy-making. The largest host states of the region, Lebanon and Jordan, are not parties to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, yet have continued to allow safe stay and access to basic services for millions of refugees. Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco are parties to the convention but do not yet have local asylum legislation. The panel will examine comparatively the different legal and administrative frameworks within which UNHCR operates in countries of the region and their impact on UNHCR’s ability to realize its objectives.
Session 2: International Cooperation in the face of the Syrian Refugee Crisis
10:45-12:15 CET / 11:45-13:15 EET
The Syrian refugee crisis is the largest the region has faced since the Palestinian exodus. Over 6.6 million people have fled Syria since 2011 to neighbouring countries and more than 6 million are displaced within Syria. Enhancing international cooperation allows UNHCR and other international intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to realize the objectives of the Statute. One year after the first Global Refugee Forum was held, this panel will assess the level of international cooperation in facing up to the Syrian refugee crisis and the extent to which it allowed for an effective response to the crisis, in line with the Statute’s objectives. It will analyze the operationalization of the Global Compact on Refugees which highlighted the need for robust and sustained support to the countries bearing the largest responsibility for the protection and livelihood of refugees.
Interpretation in English, Arabic, and French will be provided for both sessions.