Previous Research Projects

  • This field research study was funded by the International Center for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD).

    In collaboration with the International Center for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), CMRS is undertaking a case study of Egyptian Returnees from Libya after 2011 Crisis. The study is part of the research component of the European Union-funded project called, Migrants in Countries in Crisis: Supporting an Evidence-based Approach for Effective and Cooperative State Action, which is aimed at providing accessible, methodologically robust and policy-relevant data on the migration implications of crisis situations in host countries.

    Case studies under the leadership of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), and in close collaboration with the International Migration Institute (IMI) of Oxford University cover topics related to: Libya (civil unrest 2011); Central African Republic (civil unrest 2014); Côte d’Ivoire (civil unrest 2000-2011); Lebanon (2006-today, impact on migrant domestic workers); South Africa (civil unrest 2008) and Thailand (natural disaster 2011).

    Egypt factors into Libya’s case study in respect to understanding the socio-economic conditions of Egyptian returnees with regards to the Libyan crisis. It also aims to map services provided to this group and understand the policy framework under which they are covered. The study uses focus groups and in-depth interviews with Egyptian returnees in selected governorates. It also includes key informant interviews with stakeholders and service providers.

    The findings of the study will be made available.

  • Funded by the International Labour Organization (ILO) 

    CMRS is contracted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) to conduct a sub-regional study of bilateral labor agreements, establishment and social security agreements in North Africa. The study has two main components:

    1. Reviewing and analyzing agreements and their implementation:

     a. Existing bilateral labor agreements in North Africa (particularly those between the three countries in the understudy including, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia),including social security agreements and establishment agreements, as well as sub-regional agreements such as those in the framework of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU)

    b. Existing bilateral agreements between each of the three North African countries (Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia) and the respective main destination countries for their workers

     2. Providing a set of practical recommendations for strengthening these agreements, with the purpose of improving the protection of migrant workers' rights in North Africa

    The study is part of the larger project titled, Enhancing the Governance of Labor Migration and the Protection of Migrant Workers’ Rights in Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and Libya (IRAM). The IRAM project is an ILO project with funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The three-year project aims to provide national stakeholders with adequate knowledge, capacities and practical tools to elaborate and implement coherent rights-based and gender-sensitive labor migration policies/strategies, through a highly participatory approach of consultation with social partners and relevant civil society organizations. 

    The project is expected to support the strengthening of national laws and practices concerning labor migration and the protection of migrant workers in light of relevant international instruments. It will also support an intra-regional dialogue on labor mobility and protection of migrant workers in North Africa.

  • Egypt hosts a considerable number of refugees. According to the latest United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) statistics, the number of UNHCR persons of concern in Egypt includes 132,375 Syrians, 23,841 Sudanese, 3,061 South Sudanese, 4,299 Ethiopians, 2,635 Eritreans, 6,343 Somalis and 6,235 Iraqis. The UNHCR numbers do not reflect the reality on the ground because they do not include those who did not approach UNHCR or those whose claims for asylum were rejected. The latter group, known as closed files, is the most vulnerable group among the refugee/asylum seekers in Egypt.  

    This research intends to study the situation of those most vulnerable migrant groups living in the city of Cairo, with the aim of shedding light on their vulnerability, while advocating for their protection. The research aims to provide the needed conceptual framework needed to understand the situation of those individuals and provide recommendations on how to promote their rights.

    The project has three main objectives

    • Identify the livelihood and protection challenges of "closed files" in Cairo
    • Evaluate the capacity of local organizations to provide assistance and protection to this group
    • Put forward recommendations to promote and ensure the protection of such groups

    The project will be based on focus group discussions with the refugees identified as "closed files," as well as in-depth interviews with civil society organizations.

    The findings of the study will be made available.

  • CMRS is part of a research consortium composed of four research centers in Africa. The purpose of this consortium is to analyze migration policies, practices and flows in all four sub-regions of the continent. As a specialized center in migration and refugee issues in the MENA region, CMRS is studying migratory patterns in the sub-region of North Africa through studying migration policies and practices in three countries of the Northern Africa region: Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

    The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is the largest region in terms of refugees and migration movements. It is characterized as a "sending," "receiving" and "transit" region. International and civil conflicts have generated, and still produce, the displacement of refugees and their settlement in countries of the region for periods extending at times for several decades. Refugees originate from countries within the region, such as Palestine, Iraq or Syria, as well as from countries south of the Sahara such as South Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia. These refugees settle in countries of the region like Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan. The revolutions in the Middle East have largely increased the flow of refugees within the region, with the largest amount of refugees coming from Syria. Hosting refugees in developing countries raises serious issues concerning the ability to maintain decent livelihood as well as protection issues. In the case of Syrian refugees, these problems were compounded by the fact that their situation is highly politicized. In Egypt, for example, the livelihoods as well as safety of the refugees was directly affected by the political changes in the country. 

    The diverse economic, financial and demographic characteristics of MENA countries have also placed the region at the center of international migration movements. The large financial revenues of the small population countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have attracted tens of millions of workers in the last decades from MENA, Asian and other countries. Morocco, Egypt and to a lesser extent Tunisia are large countries of origin. Unemployment, underemployment and poverty are the main drivers of migration from these countries. Apart from Libya, countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are the main destination of Egyptian migration. Europe is the main destination of Moroccan and Tunisian migration. Thus, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia link migration from Africa to other continents

    Morocco is also considered a transit country, receiving mixed migratory flows from countries from the sub-Saharan region. However, the tightening of European border controls and the increased cost of migration means that much of this transit migration has in practice, taken a permanent character. Nevertheless, it is important to examine policies on transit migration including combating trafficking in both Morocco and Egypt that is increasingly being used en route to Israel and Europe particularly after the Libyan’s political unrest. 

    This research, which is funded by the Ford Foundation, has the following objectives:

    • Identify and analyze livelihoods issues and problems faced by refugees in Egypt and Tunisia as receiving countries

    • Identify and analyze protection issues affecting refugees in Egypt and Tunisia as receiving countries

    • Identify and analyze protection issues of Moroccan migrants in the countries of destination 

    • Examine policies on transit migration in the three countries: Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia 

    CMRS is working on producing five research reports on Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, as well as a regional report for North Africa. The regional report will contribute to the final report on the African continent. 

    CMRS will make available the country reports as well as the regional report throughout the upcoming months. 

  • In 2013, UNHCR, in close consultation with development partners, decided to try to adopt the Graduation Approach to refugees. The Graduation Approach is a model developed by the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) throughout years of working with poor and later ultra poor members of the society. BRAC’s work with the poor started in 1972 and has evolved over the years by adopting a holistic development approach geared toward inclusion and community empowerment. In order to do this, BRAC uses integrated microfinance, education, healthcare and legal service tools, aimed at providing avenues out of poverty for the poor. 

    UNHCR has decided to launch its first pilot experiment that tests out the Graduation Approach in Egypt as a first step in the rollout of the model among refugees. The second experiment is underway in Costa Rica. The Costa Rican experiment is supposed to be informed and influenced by the Egyptian pilot. The choice of Egypt was relevant for various reasons, related to the urban nature of refugees, present in the country and the multi-layered challenges faced by these refugees. These challenges range from, the prevalence of poverty and overpopulation of the host community itself to a highly competitive job market, marked by unsustainable forms of employment. 

    The Center for Migration and Refugee Studies at the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at The American University in Cairo has been called upon to work on the impact assessment task for the UNHCR pilot with refugees in Egypt, in order to ensure a robust monitoring and evaluation component to the project.

  • The Center for Migration and Refugee Studies is joining a research laboratory with serveral research centers: Institut  de Recherches  et d’  Etudes sur le Monde Arabe et Musulman (IREMAM), UMR 6568; Migrations Internationales Espaces et Sociétés (MIGRINTER), UMR 73301; Aix-Marseille Université and Master de Négociation. CMRS’s research focus will be on the dimensions of the socioeconomic integration of Syrian refugees into an urban setting. 

  • CMRS participated in a number of consortiums that responded to the EU's call for proposals in the framework of Horizon 2020. In response to INT-06 titled, Re-invigorating the partnership between the two shores of the Mediterranean, CMRS engaged in two consortiums one led by Roskilde University in Denmark and the other, led by Alma Mater Studiorum, University of Bologna. The call targeted proposals that aimed to assess the potential and effectiveness of the policies and measures implemented between the two shores of the Mediterranean and identify the obstacles and prospects for further collaboration. CMRS led a WP in each proposal. In the proposal led by Roskilde University, CMRS proposed to analyze mixed migration flows from southern Mediterranean countries to EU member states by examining the structure and operation of informal economies in Europe. In the proposal led by Bologna University, CMRS expressed interest in analyzing recent migration flows from south and east Mediterranean countries (SEMCs). Additionally CMRS also planned to examine demand for labor in EU member states as well as labor supply from SEMCs and the possibility of matching this supply and demand. Furthermore, CMRS also proposed to review policies on regular and irregular migration and study asylum policies on both shores of the Mediterranean. 

    With regards to INT-07 titled, Towards a new Geopolitical Order in the South and East Mediterranean Region, CMRS also engaged in two consortiums. One was led by Stichting Katholieke Universiteit in the Netherlands and the other by KOC University in Istanbul. The call aimed to assess the complex developments in the Southern Mediteranean region through understanding the new realities of that region and how they have developed over time. CMRS led a WP in the proposal led by Stichting Katholieke Universiteit. In this WP, CMRS proposed to the European Commission, that it would analyze the rights available to and exercised by asylum-seekers and refugees in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). This work package suggested the examination of the entitlement and effective exercise of such rights by recently displaced refugee populations as well as those facing more protracted displacement in the region. In terms of recent displacement, the WP considers those displaced from Syria to be one of the largest displacements in modern history. The WP studies topics related to: the rights of specifically, Syrian refugees in Egypt and Lebanon; the development implications of such rights provision for these two states and the consequent impact on the exercise by Egyptians and Lebanese of their rights as citizens. In terms of more protracted displacement, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia are MENA countries that host long-term refugee populations, especially from Sub-Saharan and Horn of Africa countries, and this work package also suggested the examination of the entitlements and rights extended to such refugees by these three countries. The work package then considered the links between the incapacity for rights provision in host countries in MENA and asylum-seekers and refugees resorting to crossing the Mediterranean to the EU, including through paying smugglers or falling victim to traffickers and risking death at sea.