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Syrian Arab Republic

The two faces of the sea

Caroline Ayoub's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français
“The Mirror”, Artwork by Syrian Filmmaker & Visual Artist Ammar Al-Beik, 140x110cm, "Lost Images Series", 2013.

For the past five years, the sea – a small three letter word– has delivered more than its share of pain to Syrians. But two Syrian women, ‘Om Mohammed’ and ‘Om Issa,’ had not planned for this fateful encounter with the water. Om Mohammad was fleeing the inferno of barrel bombs that were dropped on Darayya, a suburb of Damascus. Meanwhile Om Issa was fleeing her homeland to protect her son after government security services began tracking him in order to force him to serve in the regime’s military.
 
There is no place left in the country for mothers or their sons.

Why countries in Middle East and North Africa should invest in Youth Volunteering

Rene Leon Solano's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français


There were over 1,000 Lebanese youths together in one large auditorium, all from different communities, confessions and party affiliations. Some were chanting the Lebanese national anthem, waving the country’s flag. Others were holding hands, and screaming every time their pictures or that of their new friends appeared on a large screen. These young men and women all had one thing in common: they put aside their different socio-economic, religious, and political backgrounds and gave up their spare time to jointly identify and implement community projects across Lebanon.

The legal problems of refugees

Paul Prettitore's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français
Refugees - Lukasz Z l Shutterstock

Like other vulnerable people, refugees are likely to encounter legal problems. These problems are often linked directly to their displacement, but also reflect general problems poor people encounter related to family, civil, and criminal matters. The longer a person’s displacement, the more legal problems that tend to arise, especially those problems that are less closely linked to displacement.  And these problems begin to strain local institutions.  The Ministry of Justice has reported increased caseloads of 84 percent in Mafraq, 77 percent in Irbid and 50 percent in Amman, all of which are areas with considerable refugee populations.

Getting Syrians back to work – a win-win for host countries and the refugees

John Speakman's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français
 John Speakman l World Bank

For the last six weeks or so I have been more or less full time engaged in thinking about how we can generate employment opportunities for Syrians in countries that are hosting them, particularly those located in Syria’s near neighbors.  I have reflected on my experience in working on private sector development in Syria nearly a decade ago.  As someone who had worked in virtually every country in the Middle East I was amazed at the country’s industrial potential. 

Counting the costs of the war in Syria

Ghanimah Al-Otaibi's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية


Measuring the impact of war on Syria is an ongoing challenge as the conflict continues to devastate the lives of people and their communities. However, efforts to understand the nature and extent of the damage are essential for identifying immediate needs, and for preparing reconstruction plans that can be launched at the first sign of peace.

Jordan’s Syrian Refugees – what a difference a year makes

Omer Karasapan's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية
 Shutterstock l Melih Cevdet Teksen

In February 2015 a blog in these pages tried to draw attention to the plight of the Syrian refugees in Jordan. This was before the drastic cuts in aid over 2015 by severely underfunded humanitarian agencies and before the massive refugee influx into Europe. For Syria’s neighboring countries, Europe’s “refugee crisis” was only the latest stage of a much bigger crisis they had been weathering since  2011. That same blog had also called for greater outside support for Jordan and its host communities - as well as for the refugees - and there are encouraging signs on both fronts, even as the severity of the crisis continues to grow.

Just across the Mediterranean – The Transition from COP21 to COP22

Jonathan Walters's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français
Rabat, Morocco - Arne Hoel l World Bank

France has just hosted COP21 to a very successful conclusion: the 2015 Paris Agreement. This achieved consensus among 196 countries on the most complex and challenging global issue of our time – climate change. It reconciled the widely different perspectives and interests of developing and developed countries, the North-South divide which has been at the heart of the failure to reach climate change agreement for twenty years. It makes global trade negotiations look easy by comparison. France should have every confidence in its diplomatic and political ability. Chapeau!

Did data miss the Arab Uprisings?

Mohamed Younis's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية
Cairo's Tahrir Square, Egypt. Hang Dinh / Shutterstock.com

In the build up to the Arab uprisings, data was doing its part to deceive those who follow the region closely. Tunisia and Egypt provide great examples. Both nations closed the first decade of the century implementing the kind of classic economic reforms often praised by western-based multilateral and international organizations. Extremely qualified, intelligent and well-meaning experts on both countries took an objective look at reforms, GDP trajectories and other traditional metrics, such as infant mortality rates, poverty reduction, etc., and concluded that these countries, while not perfect, were moving forward along a path of increasing correction. A few weeks later, both nations were in complete political upheaval.  

Education is even more important in a world that is “flat and fast”: Thomas Friedman and Education for Competitiveness

Simon Thacker's picture
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Students on university campus - Shutterstock l Zurijeta

The world is fast.
The three biggest forces on the planet—globalization, Mother Nature, and Moore’s Law (the exponential growth of computing power and, so, of digitalization)—are all surging so fast at the same time that the most critical challenge for the planet now is knowing how to plan for them.

Developing but growing less happy: what explains this paradox in the Arab world?

Elena Ianchovichina's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية
Shutterstock l arindambanerjee

The events of the Arab Spring took the world by surprise: there were no obvious signs of an approaching storm in the Levant and the Maghreb. Objective measures—used on a regular basis—showed that economies in these parts of the Middle East and North Africa grew at a moderate pace, had low and declining rates of absolute poverty, low-to-moderate income inequality, as well as decreasing child mortality rates and increasing levels of literacy and life expectancy. 

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