Challenges in the Arab States
Crises in the Arab States region vary considerably in their origin, history, intensity and complexity.
Due to its highly diverse geology and geography, the region is exposed to many natural hazards including earthquakes; dry and wet land-mass movements; droughts; floods; storms; extreme temperatures; wildfires; and epidemics. Climate change is likely to further exacerbate the already existing problem of water scarcity in this region.
Long standing crises such as State failure in Somalia and protracted conflicts in Iraq, Lebanon, occupied Palestinian territory and Sudan have led to massive displacement, deprivation and systematic human rights violations, negatively impacting human development and fuelling public frustration, anger and violence.
Regional geopolitical dynamics; authoritarian regimes; and ethnic, religious and tribal loyalties, have combined to curtail freedom and people’s rights. Problems of governance and legitimacy have accumulated and resulted in open conflict in some cases.
Since December 2010, the Arab region has been facing a wave of unprecedented change expressed via peaceful protests, civil resistance, and violent conflict. Youth-led protests have expressed discontent with political repression, and economic and social inequality. Consequently, in less than nine months long-standing regimes were replaced in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. An intensifying civil conflict in Syria has raised concerns including over potential spread beyond its borders, destabilizing an already volatile region.
How we address these challenges
UNDP works with national and international partners to prevent, mitigate, manage and help communities and countries recover from violent conflicts and natural disasters. We collaborate with national and local authorities in most countries of the region to:
- support conflict prevention through predictive conflict mapping, mediation activities and national dialogue processes;
- help restore essential governance and rule of law mechanisms in the wake of crises and conflicts, including security and justice institutions and local governance systems and processes;
- help restore livelihoods and promote economic recovery;
- enhance the role of women in peace and security efforts and in development activities;
- develop national capabilities for risk analysis, early warning and preparedness to reduce the impacts of natural disasters; and
- provide immediate crisis response to support country offices during times of crisis.
Based on the complexity and intensity of the crises, existing response capacities and opportunities for intervention, UNDP periodically prioritizes countries in the region for comprehensive support, including policy advice, technical backstopping, provision of SURGE capacity and catalytic seed funding
Finally, UNDP provides assistance in integrating crisis prevention, preparedness, response in recovery in national strategic planning processes.
Facts and figures
- In conflict-affected areas of 10 states in Sudan, over 800,000 people benefited from UNDP-supported construction and restoration of basic services, including 685 water pumps, 281 classrooms, 88 health facilities and 3,350 latrines. UNDP administered almost US$1 billion in international assistance for the country.
- In the run up to Tunisia’s 2011 historic elections of the Constituent Assembly, UNDP provided technical support to non-governmental organizations to enhance their engagement in the process of drafting new laws to maximize political participation. UNDP also trained 45 women candidates to plan and conduct successful electoral campaigns. In addition, UNDP worked with representatives from more than 50 political parties to promote collaboration and support a more consensus-based transitional process.
- In 2011, over 17,000 Palestinians received legal aid through six legal aid clinics, which UNDP established in collaboration with the Palestinian Bar Association, civil society organizations and faculties of law in universities in the West Bank and Gaza.
Disasters, violent conflict, and economic and climate-related turbulence continue to claim lives, destroy economies and livelihoods, and undermine development progress for millions of people. Crisis prevention, recovery and reducing the vulnerability of countries to catastrophe are cornerstones of UNDP’s work. As part of UNDP, the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR) was established to support innovative approaches to crisis prevention, early warning and conflict resolution, as well as to help bridge the gap between emergency relief and long-term development.