[This paper was presented in CILE 5th Annual International Conference which was held in Doha, Qatar on March 18-19, 2017]
Senior Advisor Cordoba Foundation Geneva
Dr Abdulfatah Mohamed has been working for more than 26 years in various sectors, from major corporations to International Organizations, NGOs and Government institutions in the UK, Switzerland, Qatar, Africa and Middle East. His career path has been shaped by adopting inter-disciplinary approaches to contribute in solving socio-economic and global recent challenges such as violent extremism, conflicts and global complex challenges. He has been a consultant to governments, institutions and NGOs, the OIC, the Islamic Development Bank, the Cordoba Foundation in Geneva, among others. As a director for an International NGO based in London he contributed to the design of a new approach for a dialogue among Muslim youth and law enforcement agencies in the UK and Europe to bridge the work of Islamic Humanitarian NGOs with international humanitarian frameworks and systems. He also contributed to the design and leadership of the Qatari Foreign Aid Assistance Strategy. He has been nominated as Independent Thematic Advisor for the World Humanitarian Summit and the Scientific Advisor for the State of Qatar on Sustainable Development Goals and Financing for Development Processes. He was appointed to advise the UN Secretary General Special Envoy for Humanitarian Affairs. Mohamed holds a BSc Degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from King Fahd University in Saudi Arabia, an MSc in Management Sciences and a PhD in Politics from University of Sheffield, UK.
Today we live in a world of connected globalized risks, from the climate change so often linked to key security threats, to the droughts of Sub-Saharan Africa causing social mobility, vulnerabilities and human trafficking; from extreme acts of violence in major capital cities such as Paris, Berlin and Istanbul among others, to the recent populous right wing movements securitizing religious beliefs of ordinary human victims – tagged as refugees- fleeing extreme violence in their countries yet being confused as the perpetrators of violence in US and European borders. Conflicts in Muslim-Majority States and regions are not a new phenomenon. However, the recent sharp rise of violence with shockingly sad stories from Aleppo and Mosul, has subjected women and children, particularly girls, to all forms of violence and abuse. Despite the associated hopes with the first World Humanitarian Summit organized by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) held in Istanbul, Turkey during 23-24th May 2016, the humanitarian response architecture remains in need of urgent repair to put those people affected at the centre of humanitarian response and remedy gaps in the current protection governance. Without bridging those gaps, the lack of respect for the safety and dignity of vulnerable children would remain. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), representing 57 Muslim-Majority States, is expected to address at least the humanitarian challenges of the displaced and refugees within its geographical borders at both policy and practice levels. OIC is supposed to improve protection mechanisms utilizing the existing global norms and conventions of International Humanitarian Law, the Refugee Convention and, most importantly, drawing lessons from the vast heritage of the Islamic Law and Ethics for refugees and the displaced. OIC could also easily draw on the experiences of regional organizations such as the African Union and how it developed the African Convention of Displacement, known previously as Kampala Convention.
The current world is characterized by a series of globalized risks in particular security, health and climate issues which create the need for collaboration within the international community. The increased global risks tend to affect the vulnerable populations primarily in the violence of conflict areas such as within the Muslim majority states that are characterized by extreme cases of violence. However, significant efforts have been made across the world in a bid to address the humanitarian crisis influenced by the increased global risks such as World Humanitarian Summit by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) held in Istanbul, Turkey which recommended humanitarian response strategies. However, there still exists significant gaps in the protection of the refugees and displaced people in conflict areas primarily in Muslim majority states. A majority of the world’s conflicts today are motivated by violent actors for example in Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Central Africa, Rakhine state in Myanmar to name just few which are characterized by savage, barbaric and organized suicide attacks and violent extremism among others. The existing Islamic laws are misunderstood and wrongly applied by violent extremist groups and henceforth they fail to establish appropriate foundations for the protection of displaced people and refugees where the principles and rules of the international humanitarian law are not respected or adhered to in such violent conflicts. In this study, I will explore how the current world is characterized by the wide spread of global interconnected risks with a primary focus on Muslim majority states which have suffered higher risk levels and the associated effects on the delivery of humanitarian support to the refugees and internally displaced populations. The research carried out will be exemplified under four broad headings and provides recommendations for appropriate approaches to support the protection of displaced persons.
Dramatic increases in intractable global risks when considering specific issues such as security, vulnerability, fragility tend to be difficult to manage or control due to their complex nature. It is no more that risks are perceived as events in the outside sphere or considered as external to some specific boundaries leading to limit the chances of helping people at risks. Violence and conflicts are often regarded as critical threats to the lives, safety, and security of any population in the affected areas. The states are charged with the primary responsibility of protecting people; however, the increased violence and humanitarian challenges have transformed the current situation in Muslim majority states into an international crisis. Today, there have been increased intractable risks such as violent extremism, and the paradigm has shifted from considering risks as domestic or internal events or affairs but rather as international challenge too that demand a collaborative approach to reduce the adverse effects. Whether we agree or not today, refugees are mixed up with violent extremists who have taken control over different parts primarily in number the Muslim majority states. Despite Muslim countries hosting large numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons, the protection and assistance required by the people have been challenging since the majority of the refugees are mixed with violent extremists (Hossain, 2012).
According to Cantor and Durieux (2014) majority of the people within the affected violence, areas overlook the national and local authorities demonstrating the need for the broader humanitarian community support and protection of the displaced and the refugees. Violent extremism acts by Islamic State Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq and the continued fight by the international collation to defeat ISIS has put civilian Iraqi Sunni populations in Mosel under severe conditions. Conflicts in the Muslim majority states and regions are not a new phenomenon; however, despite the fact that conflict has been witnessed in different states, the nature and complexity of such global risks i.e. violent extremism limits the chances of advancing international humanitarian support as well as shifting responsibilities to individual states only.
According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) serving the needs of the refugees and displaced persons, intractability of global risks such as violent extremism (Ramadan, 2006) is currently one of the greatest challenges faced by the agency due to the. Governments and international organizations are confronted by radically changing humanitarian environment which is becoming increasingly sophisticated. The rise and spread of violent extremism have limited agile, innovative, open and forward-thinking humanitarian response action to assist the affected people. In a research conducted by Ali & Rehman (2005), violent extremism is often linked to Islam making it one of the most misunderstood religions thus equated to the violent ideologies. Today’s conflict environment is characterized by extremist ideologies and the rise of extremist groups which pose a significant challenge to peace builders as well as the protection of the displaced or refugees. However, the situation has become an everyday life affair within specific regions and not any more considered as an external events.
According to the United Nations organization, today’s conflicts tend to be intractable which means increasingly sophisticated and difficult to manage primary due to the continued proliferation of extremist ideologies. Understanding the complexity of protecting the affected people is dependent on understanding existing global risks and the global security framework from the global war on terrorism post 11th of September 2001 attacks in New York and Washington in the United States of America paradigm to the recent Countering Violent Extremism. There exists no exact definition of “violent extremism,” despite international organizations advocating better approaches to reducing the effects of extremism (Al-Dawoody, 2011). However, ‘violent extremism’ is often understood as “ideologically motivated or justified violence within the intent of advancing social, political and economic objectives.” In conflict situations violent extremism is understood by motivating factors or ideologies; however, the concept is often an issue of debate due to its relation to criminal acts of terrorism. The concept is also related to other aspects such as radicalization and common in fragile or weak states, most of which feel threatened by the West. According to research by Munir (2010), today’s violent extremist is carried out by ideological groups that are well organized and have extensive networks which affect humanitarian response.
The intractability of global risks has influenced mix up of refugees and violent extremists creating a significant challenge in accepting and protecting the refugees as well as delivering humanitarian support. According to research Majima (2010), civilian protection during armed conflicts acts as one of the most debated issues in international ethics and war ethics. Serving the needs of refugees or displaced persons in conflict areas is changing fundamentally and becoming increasingly sophisticated. Today, the intractability of global risks have affected the ability to help the refugees as they get confused with violent extremists. The rise of right wing populist political movements as well as media outlets including social media in number of western countries have contributed to the problems rather than to the solution. Addressing crisis or conflicts situations requires engagement with states and none-state parties; however, there is a need for preparedness efforts and life-saving activities to help the populations at risks (Al-Dawoody, 2011).
In a statistical survey by Inter-Agency Standing Committee (2013), presented the facts that Muslim majority countries host a large number of refugees since the majority of the globalized risks such as violent extremists happen in the states. The article further indicates that of the world’s 10 million refugees, 4.9 million originate from Muslim countries. Additionally, 15 million of the world’s 26 million internally displaced persons come from Muslim world (COMCEC, 2016). As such, the Muslim majority states host close to 19 million migrants from a total of 36 millions of the world’s refugees and internally displaced persons. The survey indicates that violent extremism have the potential to risk millions of lives since it limits or hinders humanitarian actions of protection of the refugees and the internally displaced people. Despite the fact that the states have established legal protection and assistance programs based on the international law, the vulnerable populations continue to be at a higher risk due to increasing cases of violent extremism among other security dangers (Al-Ahsan, 2004).
According to Sahara (2015), 61 percent of the member states of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) have signed both the Optional Protocol and the Refugee Convention demonstrating their commitment to addressing refugees issues. However, the current architecture of protection of refugees and displaced are facing ineffective practices and modes of protection and humanitarian actions to the affected people. The majority of the regimes in the Muslim world today tend to seek their legitimacy by portraying adherence to traditions and Islamic laws. As such Zetter, (2007) suggests that the attempts to enforce international refugees and displaced persons protection within the Muslim societies must align with the Islamic laws which have influenced the internalization of the global risks. According to Gibney, 2004), the protection and assistance to the maintenance of the greater welfare of humanity is a core role of the international community. However, the existence of contradicting norms and negative perception of the religion influences the internalization of global risks such as violent extremism. Besides, the majority of the violent groups come from the states thus affecting humanitarian principles and international law on protecting refugees and displaced people (Hossain, 2012).
According to an article by Ali & Rehman (2005), since the 11 September 2001 attack in the US, the legal and political environment has significantly changed as well as the perception of the Muslims. According to research by Munir, (2010), the protection of the refugees and displaced in the Muslim World was placed on the agenda of Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). However, the attempts to protect the displaced and the refugees is often affected by the tensions and reactions against how these Muslim majority states are combating terrorism and the risks of violent extremisms. According to Bidabad (2012), considering events or risks as international provides the basis for creating a collaborative approach to addressing them. Besides, it enhances the chances of implementing the international humanitarian actions against the protection of the refugees and the displaced people. However, Muslim majority states needs to harmonize the counter terrorism and combat or prevent violent extremism while respecting international law of protection of refugees. The lack of balance in enacting these responsibilities by Muslim majority states create the opposite and influences of continued problems among the vulnerable populations. According to Zaat (2007), the majority of the protection provided by the Muslim majority states might been able to establish sufficient means to protect and help migrants in the Muslim world.
Conflicts in Muslim majority states have been on the rise with a majority of non-state actors and violent groups causing significant problems in different regions in Africa and Asia. The rise of violent extremism groups and radicalization have created further challenges to the effective protection of the refugees and the internally displaced people. Violent extremism has limited the effectiveness of humanitarian coordination system set up by the UN General Assembly to provide a response to displaced people (internally) and refugees in conflict areas. Violent extremism has persisted primarily in Muslim-majority states and beyond despite continued international efforts and collaboration due to the wide spread perception that extremism is related to Islam. As such, consolidating and expanding protection efforts within all countries remain a challenge primarily within the Muslims majority states due to the current perception. The intensity of violent extremism is regarded as high with a majority of conflicts being associated with extremism which has increased over the last ten years (Lombardi, 2007).
Conflicts in Muslim majority states happen in different forms and tends to be a major setback to the implementation of the humanitarian law. According to Munir (2008), one of the common causes of conflicts in the Muslim world includes suicide attacks which are also a recurrent feature of the conflicts. Despite the fact that suicide bombings are common in many conflicts around the world, they are more prominent in the Muslim world such as Iraq and Palestinian territories (Lombardi, 2007). Suicide attacks within the conflict areas in Muslim majority states limit the chances of protecting the refugees and displaced people as well as risking the humanitarian support staff. To the Muslim world suicide operations or attacks serve as the “answer of the weak and oppressed to the powerful aggressors” (Munir, 2008). Additionally, Munir (2008) notes that “oppression makes the oppressed discover new weapons and new strength every day..” The arguments tend to justify suicide attacks and other forms of violence such as extremist violence within the Muslim states.
Non-state actors such as extremist groups have caused significant challenges to the protection of the refugees and displaced persons since they are submerged under the principles of just war theory. According to research by Majima (2010), Just War theory has the role of the civilian protection as a necessary condition to be met; however, it sidelines civilian protection through other objectives such as political-military objectives or military necessity. By adopting the theory, number of the Muslim majority states might justify their actions increasing the complexity of protecting the displaced and refugees.
Theoretical and empirical evidence from researchers such as Zaat (2007) confirms that global risks such as suicide attacks and violent extremism are increasingly targeting civilians resulting to increased number of internally displaced people as well as refugees and minimal protection or support to the affected. The empirical evidence further connects the violence to non-state armed groups aligned with diverse ideologies and motivations. Groups such as ISIS demonstrates some key aspects of violence with significant negative impacts on civilians. All human beings are entitled to their fundamental human rights, and the Governments have the role of protecting human rights. Based on the argument, the Governments are expected to protect their citizens from violations such as ethnic cleansing, genocide, war crimes and violence among others. Hence, the government has a greater role primarily toward those vulnerable to attacks. The existence of non-state actors and violent groups such as ISIS limits the ability to make alignment between the means of the war and ending goals. The groups have influenced the measures taken to evolve over the years to incorporate current threats to the protection of displaced people and the refugees (Lombardi, 2007).
In the first World Humanitarian Summit ever organized by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) held in Istanbul, Turkey during 23-24th May 2016, the participants sought to establish appropriate humanitarian response to people affected by conflicts or vulnerable populations. It also involved the protection of all affected persons through the engagement of states and non-state parties to the conflict. The World Humanitarian Summit resolve was also supported by the United Nations “Rights up Front” Plan of action that emphasized on the UN role in protecting people in any place based on human rights requirements as well as responding to the violations of the international human rights law (Al-Ahsan, 2004). The plans developed presented the notion that the international humanitarian action should be based on protecting the people through a comprehensive protection strategy. The World Humanitarian Summit created high levels of ambitions within the international community to protect refugees and internally displaced people in the time of conflict or violence across the world. Member States renewed their commitment to humanitarian support and response including collaboration throughout the duration of the response and beyond (Al-Ahsan, 2004).
However, different regions such as Middle East, Africa, and Asia are still facing a lack of the required structures of protection. A majority of the states that are facing issues are Muslim countries and the problem of inability to have the necessary structures of security is related to the level of commitment to protecting the refugees and displaced people. According to Munir, (2002), conflict within the Muslim states is a common phenomenon which presents the notion that the countries should be on the forefront in ensuring the protection of the civilians and improved humanitarian support. However, Lombardi (2007) points that the case is opposite as the states and their laws serve as the stumbling block to the success of humanitarian response within the regions. In his research, Munir, (2008) conflict and war within the Islamic region is often assumed as acceptable and a form of presenting justice to the oppressed such as the case of suicide attacks.
According to Andrade (2015), the World Humanitarian Summit acknowledged the States primary responsibility for providing protection as a key theme to achieve positive outcomes. Besides, the Summit viewed the humanitarian action as a shared responsibility across different sectors. WHS demonstrated the world’s commitment to the protection and humanitarian response as well as providing opportunities to promote synergies and provide more visibility to the existing initiatives (WHS, 2015). Munir, (2010) further indicates that the protection of refugees and displaced should be a priority and must be clearly set out with action plans which are critical in leveraging each actor’s role. WHS provided an opportunity to promote professional standards for protection work as well as enable more accountability through communication with communities. The WHS further suggests that the protection is not a one-off event but rather based on a rights-based approach which adopts a series of interventions with protection and non-protection actors (World Humanitarian Summit, 2015).
The Middle East among other regions in Africa and Asia still facing a lack of the required structures of protection for the refugees and displaced persons The lack of structures limits the collaboration between the international community and the states in addressing the global risks as well as delivering humanitarian support at the local level. According to Geneva Call & IDMC (2011), the obligation to protecting and assisting the displaced people is a responsibility of the states together with the international support. However, states which lack appropriate strategies or plans to address conflict effects on refugee situations limit the effectiveness of the international initiatives in different ways. For example, the countries deny the humanitarian support in regards to security and logistics. There governments which also deny the refugees and the displaced persons their rights to protection; thus making the population vulnerable to different forms of human suffering. The majority of the states within the regions identified as having weak structures that can support the protection of refugees and displaced people are influenced by weak laws which fail to guarantee safety and security of the response staff in areas of complex emergency as well as involving natural disasters. Unlike other statutes, the Islamic law fails to establish a special status for the vulnerable population as well as the individual needs entitled to the particular persons such as the right to protection by the government (Munir, 2011).
According to Martinovic, (2016), the Muslim society in the regions identified only provide special provisions for the areas such where community and minority groups are affected by conflicts or violence. Besides they make special provisions for person category such as women and children as well as people with disabilities among others. The weak structures within the countries also limit the opportunities of providing sustainable development programs to the people at risks which help inform the humanitarian support decision-making and response team such as the engagement of state and non-state parties to the conflict. Weak government structures of protection of the displaced and refugees contribute to the exploitation of violent and terrorist groups to affected populations i.e. recruiting children as soldiers and suicide attackers and affect the humanitarian support negatively. People across the Middle East, Asia, and Africa have been characterized by the rise of ideological groups seeking to advance their ideologies as well as shrinking the space for humanitarian support (Munir, 2011).
According to Zaat (2007), the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) an organization whose member states come from the Muslim world and have signed both the refugee’s convention and the optional protocol. OIC was formerly the Organization of the Islamic Conference and is regarded as the second largest inter-state organization after the United Nations with its members spread over four continents. OIC is based on providing a collective voice for the Islamic world as well as ensuring the protection of the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony. According to Munir, (2002), the organization was established in Rabat Morocco on 25th September 1969. OIC is based on the protection of displaced people in the Muslim world. However, the team relies on addressing the rising problem of refugees in different parts of the world primarily within the members of the Islamic community. OIC represented 57 Muslim-majority states; many of which face humanitarian challenges with the displaced and the refugees within their geographical borders. OIC operates at both policy and practice levels and is based on improving the protection mechanisms by utilizing the existing global norms and conventions of the International Humanitarian Law (Munir, 2011). OIC also draws support from the Islamic Law and Ethics for the refugees and the displaced persons. The organization need to draw support from larger international agencies such as the African Union which developed the African Convention of Displacement or the Kampala Convention.
According to Munir (2011), the 57 member states of OIC are located in Asia, Europe, and Africa. Besides, the Muslim communities are found in different locations globally as minorities with the current number being more than 1.66 billion (Hossain, 2012). The idea that the Muslim world experiences armed conflicts and persecution at high rates creates the need for cooperation in addressing the needs of the displaced people and the refugees. According to Hossain (2012), OIC member states hosts 9.4 million refugees and persons of concern to the UNHCR such as the displaced persons. OIC promotes the chances of advancing refugee protection despite the existence of Islamic laws that limit their protection such as the law of asylum and Hijrah. Munir (2011) notes that the Muslim’s states application of Islamic law to deal with asylum seekers and refugees is ineffective and fails to provide them the desired protection. OIC has roles to protection of humanitarian action based on the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) principals which involve the commitment to ensuring the protection of humanitarian response during violence incidents, conflict or natural disasters. OIC believes such events cause threats to the resident’s lives and its effects as a violation of the international law and human rights (Norris, 2012).
OIC guides the member states on different ways to respond to the pre-existing threats and vulnerabilities that influence humanitarian crisis. Besides, it encourages the member states of ensuring their primary responsibility of protecting people in conflict situations or violence lies with the government irrespective of the misapplication of Islamic laws that might limit the protection. According to (Gauci, Giuffré & Tsourdi (2015) OIC also has a vital role in encouraging broader support of the humanitarian community to strengthen their protection capabilities as well as alleviate suffering and restore dignity to the displaced people and the refugees. Based on the idea that conflicts within the Muslim states are common phenomena, the existence of a body that is internationally recognized to address the needs of the refugees and displaced persons becomes a critical issue. OIC seeks at developing and implementing a comprehensive protection strategy that is based on addressing the risks and reducing the violations of the refugees and displaced persons. According to Munir (2011), OIC supports its member states legitimate aspirations for statehood as well as shaping their responsibilities based on the vision of protecting the civilians and children in conflict or violence-hit areas which are common in the Muslim world. They also help in addressing global risks such as violent extremism which is more profound in Muslim majority states than other areas in the world (Munir, 2010).
OIC also has a role in enhancing the cooperation among the Muslim states socially, economically and in the cultural fields. It emphasizes on Islamic values as well as the international cooperation in the protection of displaced people and has been instrumental in addressing conflict situations in countries such as Palestine. According to Schoenholtz (2015), OIC also actively seeks support among the Muslim majority states as well as the international forum to provide a quick and appropriate response to refugees and displaced person needs. The organization works in line with the universal human rights principles thus enhancing the ability of the member states to protect the rights of the refugees and the displaced people in the conflict areas which are also common in the countries. OIC also fosters solidarity within the Muslim society and reducing the often held negative perception of the religion. As such, OIC has since become a an avenue to shape the held opinion of the Islamic faith through promoting cooperation in protecting the refugees and displaced in their states, which are vulnerable to the events (Evans, 2005).
The OIC shapes the Islamic law and protection enhancing the chances of better protection and cooperation between the international community in improving refugees protection and the displaced people. In the early times, Munir (2011) notes that conflicts or war in Muslim history was based on defending the faith and the faithful from external attacks. The Islamic norms or values also provided immunity to the non-combatants such as women and children. Munir (2010), further indicated that The early Muslim jurists applied the Just war theory to justify their actions and moral judgment of war. Ali & Rehman (2005), argues that Islam is often misunderstood and considered as an aggressive religion, an aspect that has influenced Muslims to recourse to terrorism, destruction, and violence. Before the current or modern norms of the Islamic laws, their civilization was castigated as being stagnant, backward and unable to handle the demands of the 21st century.
Ali & Rehman (2005), suggested that critics also equated Islam with intolerance, violence, fanaticism and aggression based on the Jihad ideology. The existence of the beliefs has influenced the rise in ideological groups and violent extremism associated with Islam. Besides, Ali & Rehman (2005), notes that the Jihad ideology has continually been applied to demonstrate the cynical nature of a religion and incompatibility with modern norms of the international law as established by the UN Charter. However, Muslim society has had its share to the right aspects centered on the protective nature of the religion norms and values to the people affected by violence and conflicts within different regions. For example, the Jews who fled from Spain during Inquisitive Courts Period where protected by Ottoman Empire, also, Jews who were able to escape the Nazi Holocaust were protected by Albanian Muslims (Al-Ahsan, 2004).
From the beginnings of Islam, the Islamic civilization has proved to save and protect vulnerable populations during conflicts such as the Jews and Christians primary to women and children affected by conflicts. According to Munir (2011), the protective nature forms the basis for OIC cooperation with the international community in enhancing support and protection for the refugees and displaced. The idea that the Muslim world is characterized by extreme cases of violence creates the need to have stronger and quality structures to enhance support and protection of the affected people. OIC and the Islamic Law and protection provides the basis for improving the countries commitment to protecting the displaced and refugees during conflicts or violence. According to Ali & Rehman (2005), the idea of Islam being less protective to vulnerable groups during conflicts or violence is based on the held negative perception as a religion based on conflict.
According to Munir (1997), the western nations stand at the forefront in demonstrating negative perception of Islamic laws as well as misconceptions regarding the content and scope of the Islamic International Law. Islam takes extreme care of children, women and other vulnerable persons during armed conflict. The Quran provides different verses that demonstrate the need to protect the vulnerable groups during conflicts since the Muslims only fights combatants. The tradition has significantly helped in establishing a culture of protection of refugees and displaced persons during conflicts (Welton, 2006). Hence, there is a general prohibition on killing women and children during conflict based on the Islamic laws which have supported their protection during violence cases which are common in their countries. The Islamic international laws also provide the basis for the cooperation between Muslims and non-Muslims. The Islamic International law acknowledges the need to enhance the protection for the people affected by conflict or violence primarily the vulnerable populations. The foundations established by the religious values and norms in Islam provides the basis for continued international cooperation in addressing the humanitarian response actions (Al-Ahsan, 2004).
According to Munir (2011), the Islamic laws provide key objectives which must be promoted, protected and preserved. The objectives are further based on ensuring reducing harm to the displaced people and the refugees by repelling harm from them. The Muslim countries have demonstrated the good faith in the protection of the citizens affected by conflicts in their countries as well as improving the cooperation between them using the OIC as well as the international community to improve humanitarian support to the affected. According to research by Welton (2006), OIC adopts the Islamic tradition of more than 14 centuries as well as the legacy of the United Nations. Islamic law is also based on the universal rule that suggests that “there should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm,” which applies to the protection of children thus enhancing their security.
According to OIC, the Islamic law that relates to asylum seeking and forced displacement (Hijrah) tends to be different from the modern ones in that it provides more protection to asylum seekers and refugees. However, one of the fundamental problems influencing the widespread problems experienced by displaced people and refugees in Muslim states involves the poor implementation of the Islamic laws as well as the understanding of Islam differently. The majority of the member states of OIC fail to apply the Islamic law relating to refugee protection and asylum seeking which accounts for a large number of refugees and need for humanitarian support within the countries. The Islamic law also presents the argument that conflicts or fighting is confined to those who fight them and provides immunity to the vulnerable groups such as the women, elderly and children (Lombardini, 2001).
On the other hand, Al-Zuhili, (2005), confirms that today, there has been increased partnership or collaboration between the Muslim society and the international community in establishing strategic responses to humanitarian needs. The cooperation offers a model of community-based, culturally appropriate and sustainable assistance provision to people affected by conflicts such as displaced persons and the refugees. The prevalence rate of conflicts and violent conflicts within the Muslim states is high which suggests that the cooperation has greater benefit by addressing the needs of the people affected as well as coordinating emergency response. However, Munir, (2010) notes that the long-term vision for the partnership within the international community in regards to protecting the refugees and displaced people should be based on a commitment of all the stakeholders and coordinating efforts both locally and internationally. The Islamic law provides the environment for humanitarian action that reinforces the primary responsibility of governments in addressing the humanitarian needs of the affected people.
In discussing the war in Islam, there are two separate areas of considerations which involve the rules of governing how the war is conducted and rules of resolving the war. However, Orchard (2010) notes that the Islamic Law had preceded the international humanitarian law. As earlier identified, the Muslim states host scores of refugees and displaced where Islamic jurisprudence takes precedence. The Islamic protection framework is based on the Islamic law and draws heavily on the norms and long-held practice within the cultures. By consolidating and expanding the existing efforts as well as incorporating international cooperation, it’s easier to achieve the desired humanitarian support or response primarily influenced by intractable global risks such as violent extremism (Lombardini, 2001).
In the wake of continued conflicts and extremist violence across the world, the number of refugees and displaced people continues to rise prompting the request for better and quick response to the situations. The majority of the conflict cases or violence issues happen within the Muslim majority states which also accounts for a significant number of refugees in the countries. However, The States or individual governments have the primary responsibility of providing protection and support for the vulnerable groups. On the other hand, the research notes that the inclusion of the broader international support helps achieve the desired protection outcomes as a goal of the humanitarian community. One of the key issues influencing the situation involves the rise and spread of violent extremist and radical groups or ideological groups in the world today. Groups such as ISIS are based on radical ideologies and violent extremism and also operate in Muslim majority states. Despite the long held negative perception of the Islamic religion, the Islamic law demonstrates its commitment to the protection of the vulnerable groups during conflicts. The Islamic security framework and the international community support provides the basis for addressing the issues affecting refugee and displaced people support. The structure ensures its culturally acceptable and provides the desired protection and assistance to asylum seekers and refugees. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), representing 57 Muslim-Majority States, helps in ensuring collaboration among the Muslim countries in addressing some of the global risks such as violent extremism and the associated effects. The World Humanitarian Summit by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also demonstrates the strategic plans established at the international level to enhance coordination of humanitarian efforts and protection of the displaced people.
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This paper discusses the responses of two groups of Muslim-majority…