Refugees or Migrants?

Difficulties of West Africans in Morocco

by Parastou Hassouri | published September 12, 2017

Much of the media attention on global displacement currently focuses on the Syrian refugee crisis and refugees’ attempts to enter Europe through Eastern Mediterranean routes. Certainly, the large scale of displacement that has occurred as a result of the war in Syria (the number of registered refugees has surpassed five million), and the rise in number of asylum applications being made in Europe, merit our attention. However, Syrian refugee flows in the Eastern Mediterranean are only part of a larger picture of forced migration.

Into the Emergency Maze

Injuries of Refuge in an Impoverished Sicilian Town

by Silvia Pasquetti
published in MER280

It was a sunny and warm day in February 2015, in the midst of an otherwise atypically rainy and cold Sicilian winter. Awate and Drissa [1] sat next to one other on the edge of the covered balcony at the small reception center for asylum seekers where they lived. Both wore headphones but their bodies moved out of sync as they followed the different rhythms that pumped into their ears. Driving past the center [2] with his car window down, Roberto commented as I sat next to him: “They always seem so relaxed, with their headphones and flashy shoes. They are taken care of.

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A Lonely Songkran in the Arabah

by Matan Kaminer
published in MER279

There was something awe-inspiring about the dark red rainclouds that covered the sky of the Arabah on April 13. Precipitation is rare in this section of the Great Rift Valley, which lies below sea level and hundreds of miles from the Mediterranean. When it does come, the rain rushes down the wadis of the Israeli Negev and from the high mountains of Jordan opposite, flooding the dry bed of the Wadi ‘Araba, prying loose the landmines buried decades ago when the two states were in a state of war. Rarer still is rain in April, the month in which fresh days and cold nights begin to give way to the stifling 24-hour heat of summer, and the month in which the bell peppers that have brought prosperity to the Israeli side of the Arabah begin to wilt and rot.

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Migrant Workers and the US Military in the Middle East

by Darryl Li
published in MER275

Over the past 15 years, the United States has waged two major land wars in the greater Middle East with hundreds of thousands of ground troops. Shadowing these armies and rivaling them in size has been a labor force of private contractors. The security company once called Blackwater has played an outsize role in the wide-ranging debate about the privatization of war and attendant concerns of corruption, waste and human rights abuses. But this debate has also largely overlooked a crucial fact: While Blackwater was founded and largely staffed by retired US military personnel, the vast majority of the overseas contractor work force is not American.

Algerian Migration Today

by David McMurray
published in MER123

Richard Lawless and Allan and Anne Findlay, Return Migration to the Maghreb: People and Policies, Arab Papers 10 (London: Arab Research Centre, 1982).

Philippe Adair, “Retrospective de la Reforme Agraire en Algerie,” Revue Tiers-Monde 14 (1983).

Jean Bisson, “L’industrie, la ville, la palmeraie au desert,” Maghreb-Machrek 99 (1983).

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Letter from Bangkok

by A Special Correspondent
published in MER123

In 1975, around 1,000 Thai workers left for Bahrain and Saudi Arabia; by 1982, 108,520 workers, over one third of all Thailand’s expatriate work force, had left for 11 different countries in the Middle East region. Their remittances, totaling over $450 million, amounted to the equivalent of half the foreign exchange brought into Thailand by its foreign visitors and exceeded revenues from the country’s main commodity exports except rice and tapioca. Many of the Thais employed in the region are skilled workers, mechanics, engineers and drivers, and their absence is blamed for shortages of skilled labor in Thailand’s domestic labor market. The majority are unskilled manual laborers drawn by the lure of wages often five times higher than Thailand’s.

Egyptian Labor Abroad

Mass Participation and Modest Returns

by Robert LaTowsky
published in MER123

Hardly more than a decade has passed since Egypt’s pioneering emigrants first offered their skills to the nascent development of neighboring Arab countries. Measured against the volume and impact of its labor contributions, this seems a short time indeed. In that time, the limited opportunities once available only to Egypt’s most educated elite have mushroomed to require the talents and energies of tens of thousands of urban craftsmen, public employees and rural unskilled laborers. From these masses of temporary sojourners have come massive transfers of wages and remittances to Egypt’s thirsty economy.

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Labor Migration in the Arab World

by Fred Halliday
published in MER123

The Arab world comprises 18 states and was inhabited, in 1980, by more than 150 million people. [1] Two factors vital to economic development—population and oil—are, however, distributed in an extremely uneven manner among these states. The abstract possibility of mutually beneficial cooperation between the population-rich and the oil-rich is not being realized. Instead, we are seeing a process of increased inequality and deterioration in the productive and human resources of the Arab world: first, between the oil-rich and population-rich states; and second, between the Arab world as a whole and the industrialized economies from whom the real wealth of the Arab countries (mediated through oil revenues) is coming.

Crushing Repression of Eritrea's Citizens Is Driving Them Into Migrant Boats

by Dan Connell | published April 20, 2015

Abinet spent six years completing her national service in one of Eritrea’s ministries, but when she joined a banned Pentecostal church, she was arrested, interrogated, threatened, released and then shadowed in a clumsy attempt to identify other congregants. She arranged to be smuggled out of the country in 2013 and is now in a graduate program in human rights in Oslo.

Like Abinet, hundreds of Eritrean asylum seekers are landing on the shores of Italy. Eritreans are second only to Syrians in the number of boat arrivals, though the country is a fraction of Syria’s size and there’s no live civil war there.

A Grim New Phase in Yemen’s Migration History

by Marina de Regt | published April 15, 2015 - 10:27am

“Yemen’s conflict is getting so bad that some Yemenis are fleeing to Somalia,” read a recent headline at the Vice News website. The article mentions that 32 Yemenis, mainly women and children, made the trip to Berbera, a port town in Somaliland (and not Somalia). Hundreds of thousands of Somalis have crossed the Gulf of Aden since the outbreak of the Somali civil war in 1991. But now the tide seems to have turned.