Refugee populations are often perceived as an unexpected, disruptive, and temporary burden. This perception often drives countries of asylum to adopt short-term and exclusionary policies regarding refugees’ rights and settlements strategies. Almost 85% of the world’s refugees are in the Middle East & North Africa. This region has witnessed during the last few decades two of the most significant refugee crises. First, with the Palestinian refugee influx in 1948. Second, with the Syrian conflict after 2011. While in Turkey, the Syrian refugee population is estimated to be of nearly 3.5 million, Lebanon is hosting almost 500,000 Palestinians and 1.5 million Syrians. This presentation compares refugee hosting and settlements policies in Turkey and in Lebanon. It seeks to demonstrate that in Lebanon, the same policies, those adopted 70 years ago vis-à-vis the Palestinians, are being implemented today with Syrian refugees. These policies are based on institutional, social, economic and spatial exclusion. Seeking to dissuade refugees from staying, they engender similar drawbacks: competition over housing and jobs, refugee exploitation, increasing poverty, growing social tensions, security breaches, and (sometimes armed) ghettoization. The Lebanese experience will be then compared with the Turkish hosting policies for Syrian refugees, with an emphasis on the Turkey-EU deal. This panel highlights the importance of long-term planning and development strategies for refugees. It examines the benefits of integrative approaches and refugee empowerment for both refugee and host populations.
Rouba Al-Salem is a Steinberg Fellow in International Migration Law and Policy at the Center for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, Faculty of Law, McGill University.
Faten Kikano is a researcher and a PhD candidate in the faculty of built environment at Université de Montréal.
Semuhi Sinanoğlu is a policy consultant from Turkey and a resident fellow at Jeanne Sauvé Foundation.