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School of Law

Refugee Communities in the Middle East - Protection or Discrimination? A Critical Perspective

Date: 27 November 2023

This workshop brought together top academic experts specialising on the rights and realities of refugee communities in the Middle East. The purpose was to critically assess and debate unfolding events as well as the effects of ambivalent policies implemented in the region by States, UN agencies and the international community at large.

The vast majority of States in the Middle East are not party to the 1951 Refugee Convention or 1967 Protocol. Yet, the region hosts an unmatched number of refugee communities that have experienced and continue to face long-term displacement including Palestinians, Kurds, Iraqis, and Syrians. One of the reasons these communities have not been able to access durable protection is due to the continuing persecution and discrimination they encounter when seeking protection in neighbouring countries, combining different forms of violence, exclusion, and marginalisation on myriad grounds, including nationality, gender, and religion, as well as their intersection.

On consideration of current developments in the region, the workshop reflected on how forced displacement and discrimination converge in the context of refugee communities in the Middle East, exploring several important questions from a critical perspective informed by feminist theory and decolonial approaches to law:

  • What are the roots of their persecution and discrimination?
  • How does violence and oppression perpetuate and maintain forced displacement?
  • Is international (refugee) law the answer or part of the problem?
  • Which perspectives does the regional refugee regime in the Middle East offer?
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