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Displaced persons and refugees in the Middle East


As part of a series on Middle East foreign policy analysis, this one begins with people who are in trouble. The article series was initiated by a reader who is seeking to understand who are the actors in the Middle East and related conflicts. The goal here is to produce a graphic illustration that shows actors and relationships.

In a previous article that is referenced below, a recipe was suggested for developing a pluralistic caliphate where caliphate is used interchangeably to designate a place for people to live peaceful with sustainable lives in the free world. This is not a recipe for a Muslim caliphate as promoted by the Islamic State because their recipe is incompatible with humanity on our small planet.

See the photo for the basic ingredients.

The first ingredient is displaced or lost people.

A displaced person is:

“a person who has been forced to leave his or her native place, a phenomenon known as forced migration.”

People can become “displaced” or forced out, or must escape their dire plight for different reasons as their lives are in danger. We are not talking about individuals or a handful of people in this context, we are addressing large numbers of people who have been forced to flee their native home.

Reasons for being forced away include:

  • Ethnic cleansing
  • Discrimination on a variety of grounds that are unacceptable to free world standards
  • Environmental displacement
  • War
  • Political persecution
  • Disease
  • Population size

International lawyers who specialize in attending displaced persons might distinguish between migrants and refugees.

“Persons are often displaced due to natural or man-made disasters. Displacement can also occur as a result of slow-onset climate change, such as desertification or sea-level rise. A person who is displaced due to environmental factors which negatively impact his or her livelihood is generally known as an environmental migrant. Such displacement can be cross-border in nature but is frequently internal.”

This distinction is relevant because a determination must be made about where and how to relocate people to a place with sustainable conditions.

  • Can they ever return to their place of origin?
  • Are there alternative places in their nation of origin?
  • Are other suitable locations available to where they may relocate?
  • Should they be relocated in mass or should a dispersed and distributed strategy be considered?
  • What rights do people have in determining their own destiny?

By free world standards, individuals have rights as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Associated with dislocated or mis-located people are population size and demographic characteristics that are important factors in determining the scope and scale of the effort needed to assist them. Note that people are described as being dislocated from their native home or they may also be described as being mis-located, which means forced into an unsustainable location and circumstances.

For how long should people be left in a transitory state?

For instance, there are 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States who have fled their native country in pursuit of greater economic opportunity and physical security. How long should they remain in tentative status? Under what conditions should they be returned to their native country?

3 million Syrians have fled their native country escaping from war and persecution by both their government and combatants. They are living in temporary conditions along neighboring border states. Can they ever return to Syria? The answer is conditional based on the outcome of what may be a very long struggle. Can their temporary hosts afford permanent relocation and integration? Living impermanently undermines the possibility for self-determination and self-sustainment.

When conditions like this are extended for long periods of time such as the Palestinian Arabs living in Gaza and the West Bank, circumstances are most unfavorable for ever achieving economic sustainability for a variety of reasons:

  • Population size and demographics are wrong for the constrained location
  • The environment won’t support them
  • Political struggles become violent with crime, war and terrorism

Without an intervention, there is no political and economic model available to rescue them.

That is why we must persist in exploring this recipe for solutions.

Nation states that provide temporary relief for displaced persons are under no obligation to accept people indefinitely any more than the United States is under obligation to accept illegal immigrants.

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