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

MERGE Brief, November 2020

Here are the major migration-related developments of last month in and around the Middle East region.


  • Al Jazeera reports at least 74 migrants died in a shipwreck off the Libyan coast in an accident earlier in November. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says the remaining 47 people in the ship were rescued by Libyan coastguards and fishermen. The IOM also states that there were 8 shipwrecks in the central parts of the Mediterranean only in October.


  • The UNHCR says the lowest refugee resettlement numbers belong to 2020 within the last two decades with 15,425 people. To make a comparison, it was 50,000 in 2019. According to the agency's assessments, there are around 1.4 million asylums awaiting resettlement.  The pandemic has been one reason for the low number as some countries have placed temporary quotas to receive refugees based on health concerns.


  • The Guardian says the EU's new draft statement on migration places strict expectations such as the necessity to learn the new home country's language. The contentious draft singles out "the threats Europe faces from Islamist terrorism". It notes, "Integration is a two-way street: providing support but expecting more in return (fordern und fördern) is a core principle in this."


  • Since last month, there has been an increase in news stories about the financial shortcomings of various UN agencies providing humanitarian aid within the Middle East region:


  • The UN Refugee Agency is seeking financial support to assist refugees in the MENA region amid winter conditions and the pandemic, the reports. Despite having received various Islamic philanthropy grants such as Zakat (46 million USD) and Sadaqah funds (9 million USD) in 2020, the intergovernmental agency appeals for an additional 211 million USD.


  • Hosting nearly 43,000 Ethiopian refugees, the humanitarian agencies in Sudan urgently need 50 million USD to provide the most basic needs, the UN says. (


  • The UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) faces a deep financial crisis, reports. As the underfunded agency fails to provide Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, the adverse outcomes pose challenges for Palestinian refugees, particularly in the Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Syria, the UN officials note.


  • The UK government announced foreign aid cuts in its annual budget by 0.2 percent of its GDP, which will impact vulnerable communities in the Middle East, including Yemen and Syria. (the Middle East Eye)