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The devastating escalation of violence in the Israel-Palestine conflict had profound ramifications across the region, and worldwide. From October, Israeli forces killed more than 21,000 Gazans, mostly civilians, many unlawfully, while Hamas deliberately killed civilians in Israel and held hostages and captives. The conflict’s deep roots lie in Israel’s forced displacement and dispossession of Palestinians in 1948, the military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank in 1967, Israel’s ongoing system of apartheid against Palestinians, and its 16-year illegal blockade of the occupied Gaza Strip.

The impacts of other long-standing conflicts in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen continued to blight the lives of millions of people, particularly those from marginalized communities, including internally displaced people, refugees and migrants, and ethnic minorities, many of whom were denied the most basic rights to food, water, adequate housing, healthcare and security. Indiscriminate attacks, destruction of infrastructure, forced displacement and abusive rule by security forces, militias and armed groups continued with impunity.

Regional governments failed to respond adequately to the impacts of sharp cost of living rises, economic crises and natural and climate change-linked disasters, all affecting the fundamental human rights of hundreds of millions of people. People expressing their political, social and economic grievances faced punitive measures intended to silence dissent. Authorities detained, tortured and unjustly prosecuted dissidents and critics, punishing them with harsh sentences, including the death penalty, travel bans, threats and other forms of harassment. Those targeted included journalists, online commentators, human rights defenders – including campaigners for the rights of women, LGBTI people and marginalized communities – political and trade union activists. In Egypt, Iran and Jordan, security forces used unlawful, sometimes lethal, force alongside enforced disappearances and mass arbitrary arrests to suppress protests. Most perpetrators of such human rights violations enjoyed impunity for their crimes.

Discrimination remained rife across the region on the basis of gender, race, nationality, legal status, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion and economic class. In some countries it was entrenched in law.

Although extreme weather events like drought and intense heat brought death and destruction to parts of the region, governments failed to take the necessary action to tackle climate change and environmental degradation; several announced plans to expand fossil fuel production, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which hosted COP28.

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Middle East and North Africa (Beirut, Lebanon)


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