The MENA region has continued to face extensive levels of displacement, particularly over the past seven years. With conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, the Arab region alone hosts 53 per cent of the refugee population worldwide and 67 per cent of the total forcibly displaced persons worldwide. Tense security conditions, coupled with political unrest, in many parts of the MENA region remain a major challenge. On another note, several countries in the region have become important transit points along the irregular migration routes used by refugees and migrants in “Mixed Migration Flows.”
To this end, UNHCR is working closely with the League of Arab States (LAS) and its Member States to enhance the protection space. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the two organizations to focus jointly on advocating for access to safety and protection from refoulement, reinforcing registration and refugee status determination, promoting legislative frameworks, addressing the risks of statelessness, ensuring security from violence and exploitation, and working towards durable solutions, including increased resettlement efforts. UNHCR and LAS also organize regular meetings and capacity-building sessions at the sectoral, regional, ministerial, and expert levels. The purpose of these sessions is to enhance the dialogue with the concerned authorities on refugees and provide assistance in developing their policies.
Key priorities to be undertaken by the Arab Countries to enhance protection of refugees in the region were outlined in three strategies: the Arab Strategy for the Protection of Refugee Children in Asylum Context in the Arab Region which was launched in 2019, the Arab strategy on Access to Public Health Services in Asylum and Displacement Contexts in the Arab region which has recently been adopted, and the Arab strategy on Protection from Gender-based Violence in Asylum and Displacement Context especially Sexual Violence against Women, which is currently in preparation. In 2018, the Arab Declaration on Belonging and Legal Identity was presented which aimed at achieving equal nationality rights for women and men to end statelessness.