In this article, the author discusses the role of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the Middle East, especially following the recent escape of Iraqis and Syrians into other neighboring countries in the Arab world. The author examines whether the role of these agencies concerning refugees in the Middle East is about human rights, needs, or they are simply seeking to offer assistance to the affected individuals. Ultimately, the author seeks to understand the concept of protection as defined by the UNHCR and how such definition plays out in the context of Syrian and Iraqis refugees in the Middle East.
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The main point that Stevens raises in this article is the examination of “the meaning of ‘protection’ as applied by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in its policy in the Middle East, with particular reference to Jordan and Lebanon” (264). The author argues that the definition of international protection as adopted by the UNHCR is confusing, especially when applied to refugees from Syria and Iraq in various Arab nations.
The main theoretical issues that arise from this article include the role of different international agencies, such as UNHCR and various NGOs in addressing the issue of refugees around the world. Additionally, the theoretical issues on relief and protection of human rights arise in this reading. Some of the questions that arise in this article include – Does the definition and interpretation of “international protection” of refugees by the UNHCR impede or promote the governments’ willingness to help Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the Arab world? Is the rights-based approach towards refugees an effective and practical tool?
I agree with the author that the definition of “protection” of refugees by the UNHCR according to the rights-based approach is narrow and it does not cover the reality of what happens on the ground, especially in the context of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the Middle East. This reading challenges the commonly held view that there should be a one-size-fits-all approach when addressing the problem of refugees.