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Middle East and North Africa

Europe’s Asylum Seekers and the Global Refugee Challenge

Omer Karasapan's picture
Migrants arriving on the island of lampedusa

The human tragedy of thousands of asylum seekers floundering—and dying--in the Mediterranean highlights an unprecedented global challenge for the 21st century. “In terms of migrants and refugees, nothing has been seen like this since World War Two“, says Leonard Doyle, spokesman for the International Organization for Migrants (IMO). Globally there were estimated to be 16.7 million refugees and 34 million Internally Displaced People (IDPS) at the end of 2013. The conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen alone have created  o some 15 million refugees and IDPs.  The numbers are growing almost on a daily basis. Just in the past few weeks, the fighting in Yemen has displaced another 150,000 while fighting in Iraq’s Ramadi has added another 114,000 to Iraq’s total displaced of around 3 million refugees and IDPs.

#EarthDay: Floods, droughts and extreme heat threaten the Arab World

Maria Sarraf's picture
Postcard

If the earth gets much hotter this century, life will get harder for most people across the world. But how much harder will it be for people in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), a region already known for its heat and aridity? For many, climate change evokes thoughts of bitterly cold winters, burning hot summers, long droughts, and spectacular floods. But for MENA, climate change will also mean the loss of traditional incomes, forced migration and a constant struggle to make ends meet. Earth Day is a moment to examine the link between the impact of climate change on nature and humankind.

Economists weigh in on oil prices and an uneven global recovery

Donna Barne's picture
World Bank chief economists, clockwise from upper left: Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Kaushik Basu, Augusto de la Torre (Latin America and the Caribbean), Shanta Devarajan (Middle East and North Africa), Francisco Ferreira (Sub-Saharan Africa), Sudhir Shetty (East Asia and Pacific), Hans Timmer (Europe and Central Asia), Martin Rama (South Asia).


​Lower oil prices are a boon for oil importers around the world. But how well are oil-producing countries adapting to the apparent end of a decades-long “commodity supercycle” and lower revenues? And what does this mean for the global economy?

World Bank economists provided insights on the situation in six developing regions at a webcast event April 15 ahead of the World Bank Group-IMF Spring Meetings. The discussion focused on the challenge of creating sustainable global growth in an environment of slowing growth.

World Bank Chief Economist Kaushik Basu said the global economy is growing at 2.9% and is “in a state of calm, but a slightly threatening kind of calm. … Just beneath the surface, there’s a lot happening, and that leads to some disquiet, concern – and the possibilities of a major turnaround and improvement.”

Building skills for more technology entrepreneurship in Beirut

Hallie Applebaum's picture


The World Bank collaborated with local Lebanese technology communities to host Open Innovation Week in Beirut at the end of February, bringing speakers from prominent US-based institutions, such as Google, Stanford University, and the Massachusetts International Technology (MIT) for “tinkering with a purpose”. That purpose was to harness the power of open source tools to fix problems and build up their technology and entrepreneurship skills. 

Crystallizing a digital strategy in the "Pearl of Arabia"

Dr. Salim Sultan Al-Ruzaiqi's picture
Known as the “Pearl of Arabia“ for its stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage, the Sultanate of Oman is also striving to adopt economic reforms that are in accordance with global market expectations and demands of our time. The country is currently undergoing a transition to a knowledge-based economy as outlined in its economic vision 2020. Information and communication technologies are at the core of this transformation, serving as the key enabler of economic diversification.
 
A view of Muscat, Oman's capital.
Photo: Andrew Moore, flickr

Oman’s national e-Governance initiative — which is called eOman — came into effect in 2003 and since then has been serving as the main framework for Oman’s digital transformation, including ICT industry and infrastructure development, creation of better public services and development of human capital. Since 2009, Oman has been consistently recognized by the United Nations Public Service Programme for its efforts.
 
We asked Dr. Salim Sultan Al-Ruzaiqi, Chief Executive Officer of the Information Technology Authority (ITA) of Oman — the agency responsible for the implementation of eOman strategy — to share with us the key solutions his agency has been working on to tackle the country’s development challenges and to highlight some of the lessons learned. Read Dr. Al-Ruzaiqi’s selected responses below, or download the full version of the interview here

Can you tell us some of the key points of the Oman Digital Strategy (e.oman)?
Let me start first by emphasizing that His Majesty’s grand vision of diversifying the Omani economy was the key driver of embarking on developing and implementing e.oman. This grand vision was set out in the economic vision 2020 that included transforming Oman into a sustainable knowledge based society. In His address to Oman Council in November 2008, His Majesty stressed the need to develop the technological and practical skills of citizens and provide them with the resources and training required to enhance their capabilities and incentivize them to seek knowledge. His Majesty also directed the Government to simplify processes, adopt technology in its daily operation, and focus on electronic delivery of its services.

Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

World of NewsThese are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

The surprising benefits of autocratic elections
Washington Post
After a bitterly contested election campaign and several controversial postponements, Muhammadu Buhari engineered an upset of Nigeria’s incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday, the country’s first-ever case of electoral turnover. Legislative elections will follow on April 11, while two other African countries, Sudan and Togo, are also scheduled to hold elections over the next two weeks. Besides the coincidence in electoral timing, these countries share another surprising link—all three are generally recognized as autocracies. The marriage of autocracy with contested elections is, in fact, the norm nowadays. All but five autocracies have held a national election since 2000, with about three in four allowing multiparty competition. What makes these regimes autocratic is that the elections fail to meet democratic standards, typically with state power being used to favor the ruling party.
 
Cellphones for Women in Developing Nations Aid Ascent From Poverty
New York Times
Here is what life is like for a woman with no bank account in a developing country. She keeps her savings hidden — in pots, under mattresses, in fields. She constantly worries about thieves. She may even worry about her husband taking cash she has budgeted for their children’s needs. Sending money to a family member in another village is risky and can take days. Obtaining a loan in an emergency is often impossible. An unexpected expense can mean she has to pull a child out of school or sell a cow the family relies on for income. Or, worse, it can mean she must give birth at home without medical assistance because she doesn’t have the money for a ride to a clinic. In ways big and small, life without access to financial services is more difficult, expensive and dangerous. It constrains a woman’s ability to plan for her family’s future. At the community level, it traps households in cycles of poverty. More broadly, it limits the economic growth potential of developing countries.

Fighting corruption in Lebanon: No more taboos? No more untouchables?

Ferid Belhaj's picture
Beirut

​Once an unmentionable endemic, corruption seems to have gained the honor of the limelight. It is now at the forefront of the public debate in Lebanon. Today, Lebanon’s political scene is watching in amazement as government ministers compete in a race to show how seriously each of them is taking the fight against corrupt practices. They are pushing ahead with an often controversial crackdown, publicly naming suspected felons.

The impact of Libyan middle-class refugees in Tunisia

Omer Karasapan's picture
Libyan Flag

The Arab world is in the midst of one of the largest human displacements in modern history, with 14-15 million refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs). This number includes over 10 million Syrians that are now refugees abroad or IDPs, nearly 2 million Iraqi IDPs, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees most of whom fled to Syria. There are 2 million Libyans abroad, mostly in Tunisia, and 400,000 IDPs within the country. The region is also prone to sudden population movements such as the hurried return of hundreds of thousands of Egyptians from Libya, first when fighting intensified over the summer and then following the barbaric beheading of 21 Egyptians. 

This blog originally appeared in Future Development.

We are all accountable: The health of Palestinians first and foremost

Samira A. Hillis's picture


Razan was a vibrant, happy girl living in the town of Rafah in the Gaza strip when she was diagnosed with a bone marrow illness not long ago, in November 2014. She needed a bone marrow transplant, a medical procedure available only in Israeli hospitals. Her referral, though urgent, was delayed for 20 days. First, she was directed to the wrong hospital for marrow transplants, and then she was denied financial coverage. The Israeli authorities failed to respond immediately to her parents’ application for an emergency permit to allow her into Israel through the (otherwise impenetrable) Erez crossing. 

Razan died on 25 November. She was just 11 years-old.

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