Nexus of armed conflicts and migrations to the Gulf: migrations to the GCC from war-torn source countries in Asia, Africa and the Arab neighbourhood
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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This article provides an analysis of migrations from war-torn countries to the Persian (Arabian) Gulf. A growing number of studies focus on labour migrations to the oil-rich countries in the Gulf; yet, migrations from countries in armed conflict and refugee-producing countries to this region are still relatively unexplored. It is maintained that the vast majority of temporary labour migrants in the Gulf originate in countries that are not involved in devastating armed conflicts. Migrations from conflict-ridden countries to the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC) are not negligible, however, and they have been growing in the last decades, with Saudi Arabia attaining the role as the largest host. The overview of migrations from the major refugee-producing countries, such as Syria, Sudan and Afghanistan, suggests that we may distinguish between different categories of mixed migrations; inter alia, migrants who migrated to the Gulf prior to, during and after the armed conflicts in their home countries. We argue that these migrations happened in parallel with the tremendous economic growth that the Gulf countries have experienced in the last decades. Of note, however, is that they also coincide with escalations of armed conflicts in several sending countries, which may indicate that some of these migrations are also, directly or indirectly, the result of war- or security-related push forces. We also contend that the dynamics of migrations from countries in conflict may in addition be related to the foreign policies of the Gulf countries, which are often closely related to their treatment of different migrant groups.