The Middle East has experienced a dramatic flood of refugees and forced migration over the
last fifteen years. The UN High Commission on Refugees reports more than 16 million refugees
and 60 million displaced persons around the world today, including asylum seekers and the
internally displaced. The wars in Syria and Iraq have produced the greatest share of the Middle
East’s refugees in recent years, but many more have fled wars and failed states in Afghanistan,
Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. Neighboring states have faced severe challenges in absorbing
millions of refugees, while North African states and Turkey have emerged as key transit hubs for
refugee flows into Europe.
To examine the situation of current refugees and exiles in and from the region, the Project on
Middle East Political Science and the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Southern
California with support from its Center for International Studies convened a workshop in February
2017 bringing together a dozen scholars from multiple disciplines. These scholars represent a
new wave of scholars conducting original field research from refugee camps and communities
in the Middle East, primarily in states bordering Syria and Iraq. Their research demonstrates the
transformative impact on every aspect of politics, economies, societies and states of these massive
forced population movements, both within and across borders.