A view of flood waters at an informal tent settlement housing Syrian refugees following winter storms in the area of Delhamiyeh, in the central Bekaa Valley. Image Credit: AFP

Since the start of the uprisings in some Arab states in 2011, one scene has become a staple of TV news — streams of refugees crossing borders or lining up for handouts in overcrowded, badly managed refugee camps.

According to UN refugee agency UNHCR, of the 60 million displaced people worldwide, a whopping 40 per cent are from Arab countries, mainly Syria and Palestine.

For decades, the Arab world has remained in a constant state of flux, with armed conflict becoming a permanent fixture in the region, forcing millions of people from their homes.

Right from the days of the founding of the Zionist state of Israel, and the resultant dispossession of Palestinians, through to the civil war in Lebanon, the wars in Iraq, and the so-called Arab Spring, millions have been displaced and generations of children have grown up without proper nutrition, housing and education — and with dim prospects for their future.

This has led to a vast reservoir of anger and resentment that has often manifested itself through a rise in extremism and terrorism.

A Syrian refugee walks past makeshift shelters in an unofficial camp for refugees in Iaat in Lebanon's Bekaa valley, on Tuesday. Image Credit: AFP / Getty Images

Refugees from Arab countries have, more often than not, taken refuge in other Arab countries, placing the host nations under significant duress.

Given their limited resources, and their fear of disturbing the sectarian or socio-economic balance in their own countries, host governments have adopted the approach of not fully integrating these refugees into their societies in the often misplaced hope that they will return home one day.

The Palestinians in Lebanon are a case in point.

What the Arab world needs is a proper mechanism, which has the full backing of the Arab League and the financial and political support of Arab governments, to deal with the refugee issue.

- Gulf News

Much of this problem arises due to a near-total absence of a regional framework to address this problem.

Arab states, it seems, are totally dependent on agencies such as the UNHCR or donations from wealthy nations to deal with the issue.

In recent times, due to the alarming security situation in the region, governments have been even more wary of letting people in, often shutting down borders entirely. But refugees still find a way of entering, sometimes with the help of ruthless human smugglers, who have emerged as the latest headache governments have to grapple with.

What the Arab world needs is a proper mechanism, which has the full backing of the Arab League and the financial and political support of Arab governments, to deal with the refugee issue.

Instituting such a system will, at a very minimum, bring some dignity to the lives of those fleeing the horrors of war. If done properly, it may also lead to a generation of people who are equipped to work their way out of the present imbroglio.