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Research Report


Manal Omar
Elie Abouaoun
Béatrice Pouligny
Copyright Date: Apr. 1, 2016
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 44
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-2)
    Madeleine K. Albright and Stephen J. Hadley

    The Middle East is seeing a century-old political order unravel, an unprecedented struggle for power within and between states, and the rise of extremist elements that have already exacted a devastating human and economic toll that the world cannot continue to bear. That is why we, in partnership with the Atlantic Council, have undertaken an effort to seek to advance the public discussion in the direction of a global strategy for addressing these and other, longer-term challenges confronting the region.

    To that end, we convened in February 2015 a Middle East Strategy Task Force to examine the underlying issues of...

  2. (pp. 5-8)

    The forced displacement of unprecedented numbers of people (many of them unregistered, hard to track, and thus difficult to help) within and beyond individual nations has become an enduring yet dynamic phenomenon across the Middle East and North Africa over the last decade. The region’s multiple overlapping violent conflicts have triggered major exoduses, killed and injured hundreds of thousands, decimated large amounts of civilian infrastructure, undone decades of progress, and threatened the security and welfare of future generations.

    As of February 2016, the Syrian conflict has forced half of the country’s population from their homes: More than 6.6 million people...

  3. (pp. 9-11)

    The fates of refugees, IDPs, and other impacted communities across the region (i.e., the millions of vulnerable people living in communities hosting refugees and displaced persons as well as those in war-torn areas who have stayed or returned home) are inseparable. While their status is governed by distinct legal and political parameters, depending on whether they cross the borders or not (with a special international refugee protection regime, for instance), their situations are connected. Moreover, what they experience today will shape how they envision the ways in which they might live together tomorrow.

    Four trends currently exacerbate their situation:


  4. (pp. 12-15)

    Much of the literature on post-conflict recovery, and a great deal of practical experience, has highlighted the importance of creating conditions, while the violent conflict is still underway, that set the stage for long-term peacebuilding. The longer that local populations remain in survival mode, the smaller the chance of them becoming resilient later in the process. Indeed, many interventions end up doing more harm than good if the conditions for a sustainable recovery are not fully taken into consideration early on. This also entails planting the seeds for a radical shift from a culture of violence to a culture of...

  5. (pp. 16-25)

    In a context where funds are limited and aid programs for the region are short on money, efforts should center on a few priorities geared toward supporting long-term resilience and the restoration of hope and dignity. Local communities often lack basic supplies and services, but they also need, and have repeatedly asked for, international aid that goes beyond food rations and blankets to include

    sustainable economic aid to enable resilience and market-based approaches to programming:

    psychosocial support with the aim of supporting resilience and laying the groundwork for long-term reconciliation processes;

    education so that no generation is lost;

    community dialogues,...

  6. (pp. 26-33)

    This section highlights two series of considerations that must be borne in mind by the international community as it seeks to enable IDPs and refugees and the populations affected by the violence across the Middle East and North Africa to move beyond their immediate day-to-day survival and start laying the foundation for a future life together. One series of considerations concerns the way in which international aid agencies interact with local actors; the other series focuses on the support that should be given to countries hosting a large number of refugees in the region.

    International aid practices continue to fail...

  7. (pp. 34-36)

    Embracing the principles and implementing the practical recommendations laid out in this report require clear commitments on the part of the donor community. The magnitude of this crisis has forced the international community to reevaluate its response. So far, however, the shifts in thinking and new ways of doing things have remained insufficient, questioning the ability of existing aid architecture to actually face the current crisis in the Middle East. It is time for the donor community, including the GCC countries, the EU, and the United States, to make bold choices.

    In the past year, unprecedented numbers of refugees have...

  8. (pp. 37-38)

    What is happening in the Middle East today requires a far more robust humanitarian response than it has received so far, as illustrated by desperate cries for funding by UN agencies and international NGOs. But it also requires something more profound: a radical paradigm shift in the international response.

    The forced displacement of millions of people who are now living in conditions in which basic survival is a constant challenge threatens the future peace and stability of an entire region and, as a consequence, of the world as a whole. The increased risks being taken by the refugees, including those...