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Land of Blue HelmetsThe United Nations and the Arab World$
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Karim Makdisi and Vijay Prashad

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520286931

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520286931.001.0001

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The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Iraq Refugee Operation

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Iraq Refugee Operation

Resettling Refugees, Shifting the Middle East Humanitarian Landscape

Chapter:
(p.335) Fifteen The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Iraq Refugee Operation
Source:
Land of Blue Helmets
Author(s):

Arafat Jamal

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520286931.003.0016

This chapter examines the changing role of the United Nations in the Middle East by focusing on the Iraqi refugee situation and the actions of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with respect to resettlement of the refugees. It first considers the pre-2007 context before discussing how the recognition of the existence of a massive refugee population, combined with the choice of UNHCR to recognize all Iraqis as prima facie refugees, enabled the agency— with support from donor countries, including the United States—to seize the initiative and stake out a new mode of operation involving both resettlement and new urban approaches. The chapter then considers how resettlement in the Middle East helped improve the general asylum climate for Iraqi refugees and was used by the UNHCR to begin carving out a larger space for international humanitarianism in the region. It also evaluates the initial response to the Syrian refugees (beginning in 2011), reflecting on the limitations of humanitarian action in the face of mass displacement and in the absence of political solutions.

Keywords:   humanitarianism, United Nations, Middle East, Iraq, UNHCR, resettlement, Iraqi refugees, Syrian refugees, displacement, Syria

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