Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - MERGE - Migration and the Middle East

MERGE Brief, May 2020

Here's a monthly brief covering May's major migration-related news stories in and around the Middle East.


Migrant Lives in the Middle East amid Pandemic


While global attention has almost entirely converged on news about the Coronavirus since early March, three key issues have been concerning migrants and displaced people.

  1. Lacking clean water, regular health care and medicine, and living mostly in overcrowded places; many refugees within the Middle East appear to be extremely unarmed against the Covid-19. In Jordan, for instance, more than two-thirds of refugee settlers in camps live in a room occupied by at least three people. Meanwhile, neither the UNHCR nor national governments in the region have tabulated any specific data on infected refugees caused by the novel pandemic yet.
  2. Along with health concerns, the great conundrum for migrants pertains to their economic situation. Many refugees and displaced people in the Middle East are losing their jobs and sources of income due to lockdown measures as UNHCR reports. Under an already shaky economy, Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are “more scared of starvation than Covid-19”, according to Deutsche Welle’s coverage. A questionnaire conducted among Syrian refugees in Turkey by Relief International, an international NGO, contends that “87% of the respondents reported someone in their family lost their job because of the outbreak.” The pandemic has also ravaged thousands of foreign labourers in Gulf countries in an economic downswing. While many lost their jobs, thousands of Indian workers were flown back to their countries, says BBC
  3. Several hot topics of early 2020 related to migrants suddenly and almost completely faded away from the headlines with the outbreak of the Coronavirus. One of the forgotten predicaments took place across the Turkish-Greek border. When Ankara decided to decrease its border controls toward irregular crossings in late February, thousands of refugees attempted to leave Turkey for Europe via Greece. But the posture of the Greek police was far from welcoming. BIM’s MERGE network published a compilation last week with five snapshot analyses on the issue. New findings also provide insight into the illegal deportings of Greek authorities, writes Deutsche Welle.