Syria Refugee Crisis Explained

Map of Syria

Here's What You Need to Know:

1. when did the syrian refugee crisis begin, 2. what is happening in syria’s northwest region – specifically in idlib – right now, 3.   where do syrian refugees live do all syrian refugees live in refugee camps, 4. what are syrian’s greatest challenges, 5. how are syrian children impacted by this crisis, 6. what is the un refugee agency doing to help syrians, when did the syrian refugee crisis begin.

The Syrian refugee crisis is the result of a March 2011 violent government crackdown on public demonstrations in support of a group of teenagers who were arrested for anti-government graffiti in the southern town of Daraa. The arrests sparked public demonstrations throughout Syria which were violently suppressed by government security forces. Conflict quickly escalated and the country descended into a civil war that forced millions of Syrian families out of their homes. Eleven years later, the number of Syrian refugees has hardly declined and more than 13.4 million people still need humanitarian assistance - including 5.9 million who are in acute need.

Syrian children displaced from their homes in east Aleppo, Syria

What is happening in Syria’s northwest region – specifically in Idlib – right now?

Torrential rains, strong winds and floods have been lashing the country’s northwest region this winter, destroying tents, food supplies and leaving tens of thousands of displaced Syrian families homeless during the coldest months. More than 140,000 people have been affected and at least 25,000 tents have been destroyed.  Outbreaks of violence in Idlib in December 2019 and February 2020 forced an additional one million people to flee their homes. The majority – about 80 percent – of those who have fled Idlib and the surrounding areas are women and children.

Syrian boy walking under heavy rain in Idlib, Syria

Where do Syrian refugees live? Do all Syrian refugees live in refugee camps?     

Syrian refugees have sought asylum in more than 130 countries, but the vast majority live in neighboring countries within the region, such as Türkiye, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. Türkiye alone hosts the largest population: 3.6 million. Approximately 92 percent of refugees who have fled to neighboring countries live in rural and urban settings, with only roughly five percent living in refugee camps . However, living outside refugee camps does not necessarily mean success or stability. More than 70 percent of Syrian refugees are living in poverty, with limited access to basic services, education or job opportunities and few prospects of returning home.

Syrian refugee looking out over a refugee camp in Iraq

What are Syrian’s greatest challenges?

Poverty and unemployment are some of the biggest challenges Syrian refugees face, which have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 70 percent of Syrian refugees live in poverty and a  World Bank - UNHCR report estimates that an additional one million Syrian refugees, along with 4.4 million members of their host communities in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, were pushed into poverty in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic. Millions have lost their livelihoods and are increasingly unable to meet their basic needs - including accessing clean water, electricity, food, medicine and paying rent. The economic downturn has also exposed them to multiple protection risks, such as child labor, gender-based violence, early marriage and other forms of exploitation. Refugees living in refugee camps or camp-like situations also face an increased risk of COVID-19 infection. Overcrowded conditions in refugee camps make it difficult to practice public health measures like frequent handwashing and physical distancing.

Syrian family in Azraq refugee camp

How are Syrian children impacted by this crisis?

Ten years of crisis have had a profound impact on Syrian children. They have been exposed to violence and indiscriminate attacks, losing their loved ones, their homes, their possessions and everything they once knew. They have grown up knowing nothing but the crisis. Today, approximately 47 percent of Syrian refugees in the region are under 18 years old and more than a third of them do not have access to education.

Children’s rights during the crisis are undermined on a daily basis. An increasing number of Syrian children have fallen victims of child labor, with cases in Lebanon almost doubling in just one year.

Read some of their stories

Syrian girl outside of her shelter in Iraq

What is the UN Refugee Agency doing to help Syrians?

The UN Refugee Agency has been on the ground since the start of the crisis providing shelter, lifesaving supplies, clean water, hot meals and medical care to families who have been forced to flee their homes. UNHCR has also helped repair civilian infrastructure – including homes, school facilities and recreation centers -, supported educational activities for children and provided psycho-social support. During the pandemic, UNHCR has ramped up efforts to confront and contain the spread of COVID-19 through the provision of protective equipment to hospitals and health clinics, the distribution of medicine, and the construction of quarantine areas and hygiene facilities. It has also supported close to 800,000 additional Syrian refugees with emergency cash assistance to help them meet their most basic and urgent needs. 

Syrian refugee children in Iraq

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syrian refugee crisis case study

Syrian refugee crisis: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

Nour and her sister are among 6.8 million Syrian refugees displaced by the ongoing conflict.

Ten-year-old Nour and her sister live in a refugee camp in Lebanon, a country hosting more than 839,000 Syrian refugees. Since the start of the conflict in 2011, children have borne the brunt of the crisis. War has left Nour with harmful images and significant distress. Through its education intervention programming in Lebanon, World Vision has provided Nour a safe environment to support her educational needs. Nour participated in a basic literacy and numeracy program and was able to get all the supplies she needed for remote learning activities. (©2021 World Vision/photo by Sally Haddad)

A camp for internally displaced people in northwest Syria offers a bleak and cold existence for Samer*, 5. Aid workers are working around the clock to provide emergency support, but with tens of thousands of people arriving every day, supplies are low and the humanitarian response is overwhelmed. *Name changed to protect identity.

A camp for internally displaced people in northwest Syria offers a bleak and cold existence for 5-year-old Samer (name changed to protect identity). Aid workers are working around the clock to provide emergency support, but with tens of thousands of people arriving every day, supplies are low and the humanitarian response is overwhelmed. (©2020 World Vision)

Syrian refugees in Lebanon affected by a winter storm in January 2019. Children walk through a flooded tent settlement in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Many Syrian refugees have been flooded out of their shelters and lost all their possessions.

Children walk through a flooded tent settlement in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley after a winter storm in January 2019. Many Syrian refugees have been flooded out of their shelters and lost all their possessions. (©2019 World Vision/photo by George Mghames)

After 11 years of war, the Syrian refugee crisis remains the world’s largest refugee and displacement crisis of our time. Since conflict in Syria began in 2011, families have suffered under brutal violence that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, torn the nation apart, and set back the standard of living by decades.

FAQs: What you need to know about the Syrian refugee crisis

Explore facts and frequently asked questions about the war in Syria and its resulting refugee crisis, and learn how to help Syrian refugees and displaced families within the war-torn country.

Fast facts: What is currently happening in the Syrian conflict?

What is the syrian refugee crisis, how many syrians are forcibly displaced, when did the syrian civil war start, what started the syrian civil war, why are syrians leaving their homes, where are syrian refugees going, how is the syrian civil war affecting children, what is world vision doing to help syrians affected by conflict, how can i help syrian refugees, syrian refugee crisis timeline.

Many Syrian children have only ever known war. These grim circumstances have had an extreme effect on their mental, physical, and social health, jeopardizing the future of children who will one day need to rebuild Syria.


Help refugee children and families fleeing violence.

The Syrian refugee crisis is the humanitarian emergency resulting from the Syrian civil war that began March 15, 2011. Conflict in Syria has exacted a heavy toll on hundreds of thousands of children and their families. It created the largest refugee and displacement crisis of our time, affecting millions of people and spilling into surrounding countries.

About 13 million Syrians in total are forcibly displaced, more than half of the country’s population. Of these, 6.8 million are refugees and asylum-seekers who have fled the country. (Asylum-seekers are people who’ve applied for refugee status,) The rest, 6.9 million people, are displaced within Syria.

The Syrian civil war started when major conflict broke out March 15, 2011, after a forceful crackdown on peaceful student protests against the government of Bashar al-Assad. Conflict continues with insecurity in parts of the country. The consequences are tragic for civilians, particularly children.

The Syrian civil war started with peaceful protests.  Young people took to the streets in the southern city of Daraa, in March 2011, seeking government reforms. The movement was part of the social media–fueled Arab Spring that swept through the Middle East and North Africa. March 15, dubbed the “day of rage” in Syria, was a turning point, which is why it is internationally recognized as the anniversary of the Syrian civil war.

As protests spread through Syria, they were countered by strong government crackdowns and increasing violence from both government forces and protesters. By the following year,  Syria was embroiled in a civil war , with the Syrian military opposing a growing number of militant groups. As government forces and militant groups fight to take and rule territory, conflict has torn apart the lives of millions of Syrian children and families, resulting in what is now known as the Syrian refugee crisis.

The country’s weakened governance, as well as the destruction of its social services and institutions, make Syria a very dangerous place — which is why experts have categorized it as one of the world’s fragile contexts .

Some of the reasons Syrians have been forced to leave their homes include:

The majority of Syria’s 6.8 million refugees remain in the Middle East , having fled — by land and sea — across borders to neighboring countries.

Syrian refugee crisis map of where refugees have fled to escape a violent civil war.

Many Syrian children have never known a time without war. For millions of them, the conflict has stolen their childhood and affected their long-term physical and mental health as well as their prospects for the future. Many children caught up in this crisis have lost family members and friends to the violence, suffered physical and psychological trauma, and found themselves without access to education.

Here are some specific threats to children:

World Vision has been working in the Middle East region for nearly 40 years. We’re dedicated to improving the lives of children, families, and the communities where they live through long-term sustainable development as well as responding to disasters — both natural and man-made.

World Vision quickly came alongside Syrian families who fled to Lebanon in 2011. Since then, our work has expanded to other countries hosting Syrian refugees and into Syria. Children and their long-term needs are always our first priority as we plan our programming.

World Vision provides aid to children and families in Syria, Jordan, and Turkey, all of which have suffered from the conflict and resulting humanitarian crisis. Since the Syrian refugee crisis began, we’ve helped more than 7.5 million children and their families in the region. Our work has focused on, among other things:

From October 2018 to November 2020, World Vision led Facilitating Assistance to Syria Together (FAST), a consortium of humanitarian aid partners and local organizations, in its goal to help 3.6 million people in northwest Syria with emergency healthcare, shelter, and clean water and effective sanitation and hygiene. The two-year, $80-million project was funded by USAID.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve provided access to remote remedial classes in host communities, vocational training activities with the appropriate physical distancing measures, hygiene kits and promotion of safe hygiene practices, and livelihoods and rehabilitation projects.

Syrian refugees in Lebanon affected by a winter storm in January 2019. Warm clothes and hygiene kits are among the supplies Syrian refugees receive from World Vision in the aftermath of a devastating winter storm in Lebanon. World Vision brought aid to more than 2,000 people within three days of the Jan. 6 storm that brought rain, snow, and flooding.

Families fleeing conflict in their country often leave everything behind. They’re in need of the basics to sustain their lives: food, clothing, healthcare, shelter, and household and hygiene items. Refugees also need reliable access to clean water as well as sanitation facilities. Children need a safe environment and a chance to play and go to school. Adults need employment options in cases of long-term displacement.

You can help Syrian refugees by praying for them, using your gifts for their benefit, and learning more facts about the Syrian refugee crisis.

2010: Syria is a modern society built on the cradle of civilization.

2011: The Syrian civil war begins.

2012: Syrians flee bombing and oppression.

2013: Conflict increases.

2014: Humanitarian needs increase, but access to people in need becomes more difficult for aid groups.

2015: Europe feels the pressure of Syrian refugees and migrants.

2016: Years of war have devastated Syria.

2017: Syrians seek safety, stability.

2018: Conflict continues, limiting humanitarian aid.

2019: Syrian refugees experience new hardships.

2020: More families flee.

2021: Families face another year of conflict.

2022: Children continue to bear the brunt of sustained war.

Chris Huber and Sevil Omer of World Vision’s staff in the U.S and World Vision staff in Lebanon and Jordan contributed to this article.

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The Syrian conflict: a case study of the challenges and acute need for medical humanitarian operations for women and children internally displaced persons

BMC Medicine volume  16 , Article number:  65 ( 2018 ) Cite this article

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After 7 years of increasing conflict and violence, the Syrian civil war now constitutes the largest displacement crisis in the world, with more than 6 million people who have been internally displaced. Among this already-vulnerable population group, women and children face significant challenges associated with lack of adequate access to maternal and child health (MCH) services, threatening their lives along with their immediate and long-term health outcomes.

While several health and humanitarian aid organizations are working to improve the health and welfare of internally displaced Syrian women and children, there is an immediate need for local medical humanitarian interventions. Responding to this need, we describe the case study of the Brotherhood Medical Center (the “Center”), a local clinic that was initially established by private donors and later partnered with the Syrian Expatriate Medical Association to provide free MCH services to internally displaced Syrian women and children in the small Syrian border town of Atimah.


The Center provides a unique contribution to the Syrian health and humanitarian crisis by focusing on providing MCH services to a targeted vulnerable population locally and through an established clinic. Hence, the Center complements efforts by larger international, regional, and local organizations that also are attempting to alleviate the suffering of Syrians victimized by this ongoing civil war. However, the long-term success of organizations like the Center relies on many factors including strategic partnership building, adjusting to logistical difficulties, and seeking sustainable sources of funding. Importantly, the lessons learned by the Center should serve as important principles in the design of future medical humanitarian interventions working directly in conflict zones, and should emphasize the need for better international cooperation and coordination to support local initiatives that serve victims where and when they need it the most.

Peer Review reports

The Syrian civil war is the epitome of a health and humanitarian crisis, as highlighted by recent chemical attacks in a Damascus suburb, impacting millions of people across Syria and leading to a mass migration of refugees seeking to escape this protracted and devastating conflict. After 7 long years of war, more than 6 million people are internally displaced within Syria — the largest displacement crisis in the world — and more than 5 million registered Syrian refugees have been relocated to neighboring countries [ 1 , 2 ]. In total, this equates to an estimated six in ten Syrians who are now displaced from their homes [ 3 ].

Syrian internally displaced persons (IDPs) are individuals who continue to reside in a fractured Syrian state now comprising a patchwork of government- and opposition-held areas suffering from a breakdown in governance [ 4 ]. As the Syrian conflict continues, the number of IDPs and Syrian refugees continues to grow according to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This growth is continuing despite some borders surrounding Syria being closed and in part due to a rising birth rate in refugee camps [ 5 , 6 ]. This creates acute challenges for neighboring/receiving countries in terms of ensuring adequate capacity to offer essential services such as food, water, housing, security, and specifically healthcare [ 4 , 7 , 8 ].

Though Syrian refugees and IDPs face similar difficulties in relation to healthcare access in a time of conflict and displacement, their specific challenges and health needs are distinctly different, as IDPs lack the same rights guaranteed under international law as refugees, and refugees have variations in access depending on their circumstances. Specifically, there are gaps in access to medical care and medicines for both the internally displaced and refugees, whether it be in Syria, in transit countries (including services for refugees living in camps versus those living near urban cities), or in eventual resettlement countries. In particular, treatment of chronic diseases and accessing of hospital care can be difficult, exacerbated by Syrian families depleting their savings, increased levels of debt, and a rise in those living in poverty (e.g., more than 50% of registered Syrian refugees in Jordan are burdened with debt) [ 9 ].

Despite ongoing actions of international humanitarian organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to alleviate these conditions, healthcare access and coverage for displaced Syrians and refugees is getting worse as the conflict continues [ 4 , 10 ]. Although Syria operated a strong public health system and was experiencing improved population health outcomes pre-crisis, the ongoing conflict, violence, and political destabilization have led to its collapse [ 11 , 12 , 13 ]. Specifically, campaigns of violence against healthcare infrastructure and workers have led to the dismantling of the Syrian public health system, particularly in opposition-held areas, where access to even basic preventive services has been severely compromised [ 14 , 15 , 16 , 17 ].

Collectively, these dire conditions leave millions of already-vulnerable Syrians without access to essential healthcare services, a fundamental human right and one purportedly guaranteed to all Syrian citizens under its constitution [ 4 ]. Importantly, at the nexus of this health and humanitarian crisis are the most vulnerable: internally displaced Syrian women and children. Hence, this opinion piece first describes the unique challenges and needs faced by this vulnerable population and then describes the case study of the Brotherhood Medical Center (the “Center”), an organization established to provide free and accessible maternal and child health (MCH) services for Syrian IDPs, and how it represents lessons regarding the successes and ongoing challenges of a local medical humanitarian intervention.

Syria: a health crisis of the vulnerable

Critically, women and children represent the majority of all Syrian IDPs and refugees, which directly impacts their need for essential MCH services [ 18 ]. Refugee and internally displaced women and children face similar health challenges in conflict situations, as they are often more vulnerable than other patient populations, with pregnant women and children at particularly high risk for poor health outcomes that can have significant short-term, long-term, and inter-generational health consequences [ 10 ]. Shared challenges include a lack of access to healthcare and MCH services, inadequate vaccination coverage, risk of malnutrition and starvation, increased burden of mental health issues due to exposure to trauma, and other forms of exploitation and violence such as early marriage, abuse, discrimination, and gender-based violence [ 4 , 10 , 19 , 20 ]. Further, scarce medical resources are often focused on patients suffering from acute and severe injury and trauma, leading to de-prioritization of other critical services like MCH [ 4 ].

Risks for women

A 2016 United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report estimated that 360,000 Syrian IDPs are pregnant, yet many do not receive any antenatal or postnatal care [ 21 , 22 ]. According to estimates by the UNFPA in 2015, without adequate international funding, 70,000 pregnant Syrian women faced the risk of giving birth in unsafe conditions if access to maternal health services was not improved [ 23 ]. For example, many women cannot access a safe place with an expert attendant for delivery and also may lack access to emergency obstetric care, family planning services, and birth control [ 4 , 19 , 24 , 25 , 26 , 27 , 28 ]. By contrast, during pre-conflict periods, Syrian women enjoyed access to standard antenatal care, and 96% of deliveries (whether at home or in hospitals) were assisted by a skilled birth attendant [ 13 ]. This coverage equated to improving population health outcomes, including data from the Syrian Ministry of Health reporting significant gains in life expectancy at birth (from 56 to 73.1 years), reductions in infant mortality (decrease from 132 per 1000 to 17.9 per 1000 live births), reductions in under-five mortality (from 164 to 21.4 per 1000 live births), and declines in maternal mortality (from 482 to 52 per 100,000 live births) between 1970 and 2009, respectively [ 13 ].

Post-conflict, Syrian women now have higher rates of poor pregnancy outcomes, including increased fetal mortality, low birth weights, premature labor, antenatal complications, and an increase in puerperal infections, as compared to pre-conflict periods [ 10 , 13 , 25 , 26 ]. In general, standards for antenatal care are not being met [ 29 ]. Syrian IDPs therefore experience further childbirth complications such as hemorrhage and delivery/abortion complications and low utilization of family planning services [ 25 , 28 ]. Another example of potential maternal risk is an alarming increase in births by caesarean section near armed conflict zones, as women elect for scheduled caesareans to avoid rushing to the hospital during unpredictable and often dangerous circumstances [ 10 ]. There is similar evidence from Syrian refugees in Lebanon, where rates of caesarean sections were 35% (of 6366 deliveries assessed) compared to approximately 15% as previously recorded in Syria and Lebanon [ 30 ].

Risks for children

Similar to the risks experienced by Syrian women, children are as vulnerable or potentially at higher risk during conflict and health and humanitarian crises. According to the UNHCR, there are 2.8 million children displaced in Syria out of a total of 6.5 million persons, and just under half (48%) of Syrian registered refugees are under 18 years old [ 1 ]. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) further estimates that 6 million children still living in Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance and 420,000 children in besieged areas lack access to vital humanitarian aid [ 31 ].

For most Syrian internally displaced and refugee children, the consequences of facing lack of access to essential healthcare combined with the risk of malnutrition (including cases of severe malnutrition and death among children in besieged areas) represent a life-threatening challenge (though some studies have positively found low levels of global acute malnutrition in Syrian children refugee populations) [ 24 , 32 , 33 , 34 ]. Additionally, UNICEF reports that pre-crisis 90% of Syrian children received routine vaccination, with this coverage now experiencing a dramatic decline to approximately 60% (though estimating vaccine coverage in Syrian IDP and refugee populations can be extremely difficult) [ 35 ]. A consequence of lack of adequate vaccine coverage is the rise of deadly preventable infectious diseases such as meningitis, measles, and even polio, which was eradicated in Syria in 1995, but has recently re-emerged [ 36 , 37 , 38 ]. Syrian refugee children are also showing symptoms of psychological trauma as a result of witnessing the war [ 4 , 39 ].

A local response: the Brotherhood Medical Center

In direct response to the acute needs faced by Syrian internally displaced women and children, we describe the establishment, services provided, and challenges faced by the Brotherhood Medical Center (recently renamed the Brotherhood Women and Children Specialist Center and hereinafter referred to as the “Center”), which opened its doors to patients in September 2014. The Center was the brainchild of a group of Syrian and Saudi physicians and donors who had the aim of building a medical facility to address the acute need for medical humanitarian assistance in the village of Atimah (Idlib Governorate, Syria), which is also home to a Syrian displacement camp.

Atimah (Idlib Governorate, Syria) is located on the Syrian side of the Syrian-Turkish border. Its population consisted of 250,000 people pre-conflict in an area of approximately 65 km 2 . Atimah and its adjacent areas are currently generally safe from the conflict, with both Atimah and the entire Idlib Governorate outside the control of the Syrian government and instead governed by the local government. However, continued displacement of Syrians seeking to flee the conflict has led to a continuous flow of Syrian families into the area, with the population of the town growing to approximately a million people.

In addition to the Center, there are multiple healthcare centers and field hospitals serving Atimah and surrounding areas that cover most medical specialties. These facilities are largely run by local and international health agencies including Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Medical Relief for Syria, and Hand in Hand for Syria, among others. Despite the presence of these organizations, the health needs of IDPs exceeds the current availability of healthcare services, especially for MCH services, as the majority of the IDPs belong to this patient group. This acute need formed the basis for the project plan establishing the Center to serve the unique needs of Syrian internally displaced women and children.

Operation of the Center

The Center’s construction and furnishing took approximately 1 year after land was purchased for its facility, a fact underlining the urgency of building a permanent local physical infrastructure to meet healthcare needs during the midst of a conflict. Funds to support its construction originated from individual donors, Saudi business men, and a group of physicians. In this sense, the Center represents an externally funded humanitarian delivery model focused on serving a local population, with no official government, NGO, or international organization support for its initial establishment.

The facility’s primary focus is to serve Syrian women and children, but since its inception in 2014, the facility has grown to cater for an increasing number of IDPs and their diverse needs. When it opened, facility services were limited to offering only essential outpatient, gynecology, and obstetrics services, as well as operating a pediatric clinic. The staffing at the launch consisted of only three doctors, a midwife, a nurse, an administrative aid, and a housekeeper, but there now exist more than eight times this initial staff count. The staff operating the Center are all Syrians; some of them are from Atimah, but many also come from other places in Syria. The Center’s staff are qualified to a large extent, but still need further training and continuing medical education to most effectively provide services.

Though staffing and service provision has increased, the Center’s primary focus is on its unique contribution to internally displaced women and children. Expanded services includes a dental clinic 1 day per week, which is run by a dentist with the Health Affairs in Idlib Governorate, and has been delegated to cover the dental needs for the hospital patients . Importantly, the Center facility has no specific policy on patient eligibility, its desired patient catchment population/area, or patient admission, instead opting to accept all women and children patients, whether seeking routine or urgent medical care, and providing its services free of charge.

Instead of relying on patient-generated fees (which may be economically prohibitive given the high levels of debt experienced by IDPs) or government funding, the Center relies on its existing donor base for financing the salaries for its physicians and other staff as well as the facility operating costs. More than an estimated 300 patients per day have sought medical attention since its first day of operation, with the number of patients steadily increasing as the clinic has scaled up its services.

Initially the Center started with outpatient (OPD) cases only, and after its partnership with the Syrian Expatriate Medical Association (SEMA) (discussed below), inpatient care for both women and children began to be offered. Patients’ statistics for September 2017 reported 3993 OPD and emergency room visits and 315 inpatient admissions including 159 normal deliveries and 72 caesarean sections, 9 neonatal intensive care unit cases, and 75 admissions for other healthcare services. To better communicate the clinic’s efforts, the Center also operates a Facebook page highlighting its activities (in Arabic atمشفى-الإخاء-التخصصي-129966417490365/ ).

Challenges faced by the Center and its evolution

The first phase of the Center involved its launch and initial operation in 2014 supported by a small group of donors who self-funded the startup costs needed to operationalize the Center facility’s core clinical services. Less than 2 years later, the Center faced a growing demand for its services, a direct product of both its success in serving its targeted community and the protracted nature of the Syrian conflict. In other words, the Center facility has continuously needed to grow in the scope of its service delivery as increasing numbers of families, women, and children rely on the Center as their primary healthcare facility and access point.

Meeting this increasing need has been difficult given pragmatic operational challenges emblematic of conflict-driven zones, including difficulties in securing qualified and trained medical professionals for clinical services, financing problems involving securing funding due to the shutdown of banking and money transferring services to and from Syria, and macro political factors (such as the poor bilateral relationship between Syria and its neighboring countries) that adversely affect the clinic’s ability to procure medical and humanitarian support and supplies [ 40 ]. Specifically, the Center as a local healthcare facility originally had sufficient manpower and funding provided by its initial funders for its core operations and construction in its first year of operation. However, maintaining this support became difficult with the closure of the Syrian-Turkish border and obstacles in receiving remittances, necessitating the need for broader strategic partnership with a larger organization.

Collectively, these challenges required the management committee and leadership of the Center to shift its focus to securing long-term sustainability and scale-up of services by seeking out external forms of cooperation and support. Borne from this need was a strategic partnership with SEMA, designed to carry forward the next phase of the Center’s operation and development. SEMA, established in 2011, is a non-profit relief organization that works to provide and improve medical services in Syria without discrimination regarding gender, ethnic, or political affiliation — a mission that aligns with the institutional goals of the Center. Selection of SEMA as a partner was based on its activity in the region; SEMA plays an active role in healthcare provision in Idlib and surrounding areas. Some other organizations were also approached at the same time of this organization change, with SEMA being the most responsive.

Since the Center-SEMA partnership was consummated, the Center has received critical support in increasing its personnel capacity and access to medicines, supplies, and equipment, resulting in a gradual scale-up and improvement in its clinical services. This now includes expanded pediatric services and the dental clinic (as previously mentioned and important, as oral health is a concern for many Syrian parents and children). The Center also now offers caesarean deliveries [ 41 ]. However, the Center, similar to other medical humanitarian operations in the region, continues to face many financial and operational challenges, including shortage of medical supplies, lack of qualified medical personnel, and needs for staff development.

Challenges experienced by the Center and other humanitarian operations continue to be exacerbated by the ongoing threat of violence and instability emanating from the conflict that is often targeted at local organizations and international NGOs providing health aid. For example, MSF has previously been forced to suspend its operations in other parts of Syria, has evacuated its facilities after staff have been abducted and its facilities bombed, and it has also been subject to threats from terrorist groups like the Islamic State (IS) [ 42 ].

The case study of the Center, which evolved from a rudimentary medical tent originally located directly in the Atimah displacement camp to the establishment of a local medical facility now serving thousands of Syrian IDPs, is just one example of several approaches aimed at alleviating the suffering of Syrian women and children who have been disproportionately victimized by this devastating health and humanitarian crisis. Importantly, the Center represents the maturation of a privately funded local operation designed to meet an acute community need for MCH services, but one that has necessitated continuous change and evolution as the Syrian conflict continues and conditions worsen. Despite certain successes, a number of challenges remain that limit the potential of the Center and other health humanitarian operations to fully serve the needs of Syrian IDPs, all of which should serve as cautionary principles for future local medical interventions in conflict situations.

A primary challenge is the myriad of logistical difficulties faced by local medical humanitarian organizations operating in conflict zones. Specifically, the Center continues to experience barriers in securing a reliable and consistent supply of medical equipment and materials needed to ensure continued operation of its clinical services, such as its blood bank, laboratory services, operating rooms, and intensive care units. Another challenge is securing the necessary funding to make improvements to physical infrastructure and hire additional staff to increase clinical capacity. Hence, though local initiatives like the Center may have initial success getting off the ground, scale-up and ensuring sustainability of services to meet the increasing needs of patients who remain in a perilous conflict-driven environment with few alternative means of access remain extremely challenging.

Despite these challenges, it is clear that different types of medical humanitarian interventions deployed in the midst of health crises have their own unique roles and contributions. This includes a broad scope of activities now focused on improving health outcomes for Syrian women and children that are being delivered by international aid agencies located outside of the country, international or local NGOs, multilateral health and development agencies, and forms of bilateral humanitarian assistance. The Center contributes to this health and humanitarian ecosystem by providing an intervention focused on the needs of Syrian women and children IDPs where they need it most, close to home.

However, the success of the Center and other initiatives working to end the suffering of Syrians ultimately relies on macro organizational and political issues outside Atimah’s border. This includes better coordination and cooperation of aid and humanitarian stakeholders and increased pressure from the international community to finally put an end to a civil war that has no winners — only victims — many of whom are unfortunately women and children.


the Brotherhood Women and Children Specialist Center

Internally displaced persons

Maternal and child health

Medecins Sans Frontieres

Non-governmental organizations

Outpatient department

Syrian Expatriate Medical Association

United Nations Population Fund

the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

The United Nations Children’s Fund

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Joint Masters Program in Health Policy and Law, University of California - California Western School of Law, San Diego, CA, USA

Rahma Aburas

Brotherhood Medical Center for Women and Children, Atimah, Syria

Amina Najeeb

Department of Anesthesiology, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, San Diego, CA, USA

Laila Baageel & Tim K. Mackey

Department of Medicine, Division of Global Public Health, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, San Diego, CA, USA

Tim K. Mackey

Global Health Policy Institute, San Diego, CA, USA

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Amina Najeeb and Laila Baageel, two co-authors of this paper, were part of the foundation of the Center, remain active in its operation, and have a personal interest in the success of the operation of the clinic. The remaining authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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Aburas, R., Najeeb, A., Baageel, L. et al. The Syrian conflict: a case study of the challenges and acute need for medical humanitarian operations for women and children internally displaced persons. BMC Med 16 , 65 (2018).

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syrian refugee crisis case study

syrian refugee crisis case study

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Migration is the movement of people from one place to another to live or work. People can move long or short distances and might move for a short period of time or might spend the rest of their lives in a new place.

Challenges faced by refugees

Case study: syrian refugees in turkey.

Photograph of Syrian refugee camp in Suruc, Turkey

Syrian refugee camp in Suruc, Turkey

The Syrian crisis is an on-going armed conflict in Syria between forces loyal to the Ba’ath government and those opposing them. In 2016, it was estimated that over 470,000 had died as a result of the civil war.

An estimated 6 million people are Syrian refugees who have sought refuge and protection across Europe from 2011 to the present day.

The unrest in Syria started in 2011 and it only took 1 month before the first migrants started to arrive in Turkey. Nearly half of these (around 3 million people) have remained in Turkey.

About 30% of the registered refugees live in 22 government-run camps near the Syrian border. Turkey is the home to the highest number of Syrian refugees and has provided more than $8 billion of aid.

Other countries have promised to help Turkey with this but much of the aid promised has not arrived.

Why are the Syrians leaving Syria?

Why have so many Syrians gone to Turkey?

Challenges faced by the refugees

Challenges faced by the destination country

As over 3 million Syrians have decided to remain in Turkey, this continues to put some serious pressure on the government resources.

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Syrian Refugee Children Stories: Life as a Refugee

After 11 years of war in Syria , the conflict a devastating impact on the country’s children. As a child, being forced to flee your home is a life-changing event. It often results in negative impacts that persist long after the conflict has ended.

Not only do Syria’s children wish for the conflict to end. They long to be able to further their education or return to school. And yet, 11 years since the start of the crisis, and two years into the COVID-19 crisis, displaced Syrian children are facing impossible choices about their futures.

Save the Children has been at the forefront of the crisis affecting Syria since 2014, providing assistance to the children in need. Here are some of their stories.

Save Syrian Children

Dima's* husband used to have a shop selling fabric and linen, but like other business owners, since the start of the conflict he has not been able to keep his business going and he had to sell his shop to cover his losses. To try and escape the fighting Dima*, her husband and their two children fled their home and settled in a small village where there wasn't even a medical center. So when Dima's* son fell sick the neighbors told her that she should take him to the city, however transportation was so expensive and the road was so dangerous, making the trip impossible. However a neighbor told Dima* about a health center run by Save the Children which provides patients with healthcare free of charge. Dima* has now brought her son here twice where he received the medication he needs and is on the way to recovery. The destruction of healthcare infrastructure, targeting of health workers, limited access to lifesaving health services and medicines, and lack of clean water and sanitation facilities and high rates of displacement are putting people, especially children, at increased risk of disease. As families' livelihoods are eroded, access to food becomes more difficult and rates of disease rise, Syrian children are becoming more vulnerable to malnutrition, with 2.4 million children under five at risk of under-nutrition. Photocredit: Ahmad Baroudi

Dima* and her son Salim* at a Save the Children health center in northern Syria . Photo by Ahmad Baroudi.

Salim’s Story: Fighting to Survive the Winter in a Refugee Camp

In the midst of a bitter winter, Salim*, age 2, tries to stay warm at a refugee camp near the Syrian border. With temperatures nearing sub-zero, Salim will face this brutal winter in a snow-covered tent with only the clothes on his back to keep warm.

The cold days are long, but the nights are always longer for Salim. When the sun goes down, the temperature drops, and he can feel the freezing air against his cheeks. He shivers to keep his body warm but with no blanket he has nothing to protect him from the cold air breezing through the tent. He is one of many children fighting to survive the winter in a refugee camp, and as the conditions turn treacherous, he is in desperate need of warm clothes, blankets and food.

Children are the most vulnerable in refugee camps. They have been taken away from their homes, schools, friends and families, and have been forced to start new lives in strange environments. Save the Children is on the ground year round, providing the basics – like food and blankets – offering programs to help them cope with tragedy. We have also established temporary learning centers where children can continue their education in safe and quality learning centers. With your help children like Salim can get the supplies he needs to survive the winter, receive an education and learn to be a kid again.

Ain Issa is in the Kurdish-led autonomous administration of North East Syria.  In October 2019 Turkey launched a military operation in northern Syria. Ain Issa camp is one of three camps for people displaced in North-East Syria.  Save the Children is working in the three camps to provide much-needed support, including tents, food and non-food items such as heaters and jerrycans, as well as case management and referrals.

As a result of the hostilities in North East Syria , already vulnerable families are being forced to flee for safety. Save the Children is working in the three camps to provide much-needed humanitarian aid and support, including tents and food. Photo credit: Save the Children, Oct 2019.

A Syrian Refugee Puts Others Ahead of Himself

Despite his conditions of living as a Syrian child refugee, Ahmed* runs the World Marathon Challenge in Iraq to protect the health of other children.

Ahmed is one of the many Syrian children who had to flee their homes when the violence started inside Syria. Now Ahmed lives in a camp on the northern Iraqi border that was built for 10,000 and now holds close to 50,000 people-- almost half of them children.

This winter, too many children are living in freezing conditions in refugee camps – many having fled war-torn Syria with nothing but their summer clothes. Now living among frigid dunes, thousands of children are in desperate need of food, clothing, education, health care and help recovering from the trauma of war.

Save the Children is helping by providing education and play spaces for kids and improving the sanitation and health services for children. Ahmed attends Save the Children's programs at the camp - where he plays, learns and begins to recover. As hard as his life is in the refugee camps, he knows that there are children around the world who need his help to survive. That's why Ahmed was one of hundreds of Syrian refugee children who participated in our World Marathon Challenge to protect the health of little girls and boys who are at risk for preventable life-threatening illnesses.

If young children like Ahmed can overcome their challenges and volunteer to help vulnerable children, won't you return the favor and help the Syrian refugee children ?

Our teams are on the ground helping to keep children safe, providing the basics they need, like food and blankets and offering programs to help them cope with tragedy. With your help, Save the Children can continue providing relief for children like Ahmed as the numbers of Syrian refugee children are rising every day.

LaGeSo is the registration office in Berlin, Germany where hundreds of refugees, including Syrian refugees wait for days to get their official registration. Yaser's* five children Ali* (15), Achmed* (14), Hala* (10), Sedra* (7) and Aya* (3), have already been waiting 11 days, after a 26-day trip to Berlin. They are exhausted. Save the Children runs programs through several partners in Germany to support refugee children, giving them a voice and providing them with a welcoming culture, and by strengthening best practices in child protection and education. Photo credit: Chris de Bode / Save the Children, September 2015. *Names have been changed to protect identities

Yaser's* five children have been waiting 11 days for their registration process to be completed. Photo by Chris de Bode / Save the Children

Yaser's Story

For two long years, violence has kept Yaser’s* five children, Ali*, 15, Achmed*, 14, Hala*, 10, Sedra*, 7 and Aya*, 3, from living a normal life. They haven’t been able to go to school or play outside – the sniper and missile attacks made it too risky. Instead, they learned what type of weapon was being used just by the sound it made.

"Being scared was a permanent state of mind. I was always scared," said Achmed. "When I went to bed, I always wondered if I would wake up the next morning." Eventually the violence became too much for Yaser and his wife, and they made the decision to uproot their family from their home in Syria in search of a better life in Germany. They were only able to make their long and difficult journey from sunset to sunrise so they would not be spotted. Young Hala lost her glasses during their trek. "Everything is already strange, but now it is also blurry," she said. "It is very scary not to be able to see clearly."

They walked for days until they reached the boat that would carry them to Germany. The water was rough and the children were scared, but the family eventually made it. Now they must wait to register for asylum, a process that takes up to two weeks. During those two weeks the family must wait outside the registration center every day for their number to be called. There are no facilities or shelter from the rain.

"I am tired of waiting here all day. We just stand in the rain," said Achmed. "But I will tell you something: after everything we have been through, a bit of rain can’t hurt me."

*Name changed for protection. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Syrian Refugees

Who are syrian refugees.

The Syrian refugees are a population who have been forced to flee Syria due to violence, persecution or war. The vast majority of Syrian refugees live in neighboring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

More than 6 million people in Syria have been driven from their homes but remain displaced inside the country, living in terrible conditions. During Syria's hard winters, they risk freezing to death.

Syrian children - whether inside Syria or elsewhere - do not see bright and happy futures inside Syria. On average, 86% of Syrian refugee children surveyed in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and the Netherlands said they would not want to return to their country of origin.

For more information on refugees, read our page What is a refugee? .

How many Syrian Refugees are there?

After ten years of war in Syria, 13 million people are displaced, including 6.6 million Syrian refugees.

When can Syrian refugees return home?

Conditions in Syria are not ready for refugees to return. Besides the ongoing conflict in many areas, there is no access to quality education, jobs or stable income - all basic necessities.

Any return to Syria has to be dignified, informed, voluntary and safe. This cannot happen before the conflict is over and without peace and guarantees for people returning.

What are Syrian refugee children calling for?

In a recent report, Save the Children explored how children’s environment, experiences and access affect their sense of safety, inside and outside Syria.

The study found that children want to feel safe where they are. They want to have a say on their future and meaningful access to opportunities to learn and grow.

Children’s top priority is for the violence in Syria to end. They also want an end to harassment on the streets, and for just and the rule of law to prevail.

The need for stronger legislation to ensure people are treated equally and are not discriminated against was also highlighted by children in this survey.

How many children are out of school in Syria, and what does the future look like for them?

An estimated 2.4 million children are out of school, 1.6 million children are at risk of dropping out.

For children in Syria, it is not only COVID-19 that serves as an obstacle for the continuity of their education. Between February 2019 and February 2020 alone, 92 incidents occurred where a school or education facility was attacked. This has meant that children in Syria have had to live under the constant threat of violence.

Syrian Refugee Crisis: An Update from the Field

How Save the Children has Shaped Refugee Stories

Save the Children has had programs in the Middle East for decades, thanks to the generosity of supporters like you. Despite the danger inside Syria, our emergency response teams reach the most vulnerable children in Syria and in those countries hosting Syrian refugees. Inside Syria, we've supported 3 million people, including 2.1 million children.

Donate to Save Syrian Children

Read More News and Stories about Syrian Refugees

syrian refugee crisis case study

After Devastating Earthquakes, Syrian Children Need Our Help to Piece Their Lives Back Together

After the earthquakes that struck both Türkiye and Syria on February 6 and killed over 50,000 people, millions of people are trying to piece their lives back together once again.

A 14-year old girl stands in a tent with a table and smiles. The girl is from Syria and her family fled to a refugee camp in Za’atari where she now attends school.

Meet Maya—A 14-Year Old Syrian Refugee Determined to End Child Marriage

Coronavirus poses a unique threat to girls, many of whom were already denied an education. Read the story of a child refugee in Za’atari camp who is advocating for girls.

Rula*, 7, draws pictures at Save the Children’s child-friendly space in Kara Tepe. She and her family fled from Syria to Turkey, from where they got on a rubber boat to Lesvos island, Greece. Photo credit: Simine Alam/Save the Children 2015.

Rula's Story

Rula was only four years old when an airstrike hit her school in Syria. Rula draws pictures in Save the Children’s Child-Friendly Space.

Sign Up & Stay Connected

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The Jordan Ministry of Education’s response to the Syria refugee crisis: case study

syrian refugee crisis case study

Online version

About the publication.

Since 2011, the Syria crisis has displaced internationally more than six million people. Jordan is the third-largest host country for Syrian refugees, including more than 212,000 Syrian refugees of school age by 2018. This country study explores the way in which the Government of Jordan and specifically the Ministry of Education has responded to the influx of Syrian refugees since late 2011 and the subsequent actions of humanitarian and development actors to support this response effort until late 2019. Jordan, as a country with a long history of opening its doors to neighbours fleeing conflict, provides an interesting case for this study. Jordan’s legacy of hospitality has done much to prepare Jordanians to host refugees and has provided a signal to the international community that they have a willing partner in response. By capturing the experiences of stakeholders in Jordan, this study hopes to inform and incentivize humanitarian and development action in support of government ministries serving children and youth during crises. It provides policy recommendations to strengthen the leadership of ministries of education and collaboration with partners for quality education in crisis situations.

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European refugee crisis : a case study of syria, background of the research.

One of the moist important problems that the world is facing currently is the problem with the refugees. The host counties are having a tough time accommodating the refugees. The refugees are facing problems in the process of relocation (Siddiqui, 2015). Loss of lives and health problems are some of the common problems that are related with the refugees. On the other hand, the host countries are suffering from economic downturn (Straubhaar, 2015). The European countries are some of the countries in the world, which are suffering from problem like space issues and economic problems while supporting the refugees (Fernández-Huertas Moraga and Rapoport, 2015). In addition this, the European countries are unable to give proper medical support to the he refugees as they are going in number with the passage of time. However, refugees come to the European countries from all over the world; the refugees from Syria are the largest in number. The recent case study of Aylan Kurdi highlighted the problems that the refugees are facing while relocating from one country to another (Arndt, 2015). This research project will throw light on the specific problem or issue of space and economic crisis faced by the European countries while accommodating the refugees. In addition to this, the research will throw light on the specific problems and issues that the refugees face while travelling to another country.

Research aim

The aim of this research is to study the crisis faced by the European countries while accommodating as well as the problems faced by the Syrian refugees while relocating to other countries. In addition to this, the research also aims at find out the measures that will be adopted to combat the problems faced by the refugees as well as the European countries.

Research objective

As it has already been discussed that the problems of the refugees is increasing at a fast rate. Hence, it is required that the project should have certain specific objectives so that it becomes easier for the researcher to reach the desired outcome. The objectives of this research work are:

Research questions

Once the research objectives are taken care, the research questions help the researcher to follow a proper and path to complete the research work. The research questions that will be taken into consideration for the completion of the project are:

Literature review

The refugee crisis is one such crisis, which the world is facing currently. Due to the social and political problems, the citizens of a particular country are forced to migrate to some other countries (Case of M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece European Court of Human Rights, 2011). In such a situation, both the citizens who are migrating and the countries where the citizens are migrating, face a problem. The worst affected citizens’ hail from Syria and the countries from Europe are the most affected one when it comes to accommodating the refugees (McDonough and Tsourdi, 2012).

Much has been written about the Syrian three-year-old boy, Aylan Kurdi. The images of Aylan Kurdi have caught the media attention when the lifeless body of the boy was found ashore in the Turkish beach. The body of three-year-old Aylan was washed ashore when he and his family were traveling in a small rubber boat to Greece, a country in Europe which is facing a tough time in accommodating the refugees (Cohen, 2011). The image of the boy in blue shorts, read shirt and a pair of sneakers became a symbol of hardships that the Syrians had to face due to the four-year-old conflict that is going on in the country.

syrian refugee crisis case study

Figure 1: the image of the lifeless Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi

(Source:, 2015)

Aylan not only died alone in the family. His brother Galip who was five-years-old and his other Rehan also died along with him. Due to the death of the three members the family, Aylan’s father, Abdullah Kurdi recorded a message which he dedicated to the world. However, the family died while migrating to one of the European countries, he wants the world to open the doors to the Syrians. According to him, it is difficult to cope when someone shuts the door in the face. The Syrians feel the same way. They are migrating to other countries out of fear of life and they expect some amount of sympathy from the other countries in the world.

syrian refugee crisis case study

Figure 2: Abdullah Kurdi, father of Aylan Kurdi

Aylan and his family have taken shelter in Turkey after they fled from Syria. On early September 2015, they tried to make a desperate attempt to reach Greece in order to reach a safe place to stay. The boat overturned when the person who was handling the boat abandoned the vessel in the middle of the sea. It was Abdullah who was left to handle the boat in the mid sea, which eventually led to the overturn.

Over a million refugees, not only from Syria but also from the countries like Afghanistan and Iraq have fled to the countries in the European Union in the year 2015 (Naqvi, 2012). It has been recorded that  more than 3700 people either died or went missing in the process of migration in the dangerous journey that they undertake while migrating from their own country  to another country (Alexander, 2015). The smugglers around the world are hugely benefited due to the relocation of the refugees as said by IOM (International Organization for Migration).

The local governments of the countries in Europe are also having a tough time in accommodating the Syrians. More than 30 governors have said that they would not receive any migrants from Syria (, 2015). The threat of the Syrian migrants took a serious turn when one of the gunmen involved in the Paris attacks possessed a fake Syrian passport. The gunman used the fake passport to enter Europe by posing as a refugee.

The population of the refugees hailing from Syria has increased to a great extent. During the period of July 2014 and July 2015, it has been recorded that over 210,000 applications have been received for the asylum in the European countries from Syria (Horstmann, 2011). The UNHCR has recorded that the number of applications in the month of June has crossed 28,000 and in the month of July, it has crossed 32,000 (KiriÅŸci, 2015). The number of Syrian refugees has increased to such an extent that the asylum system in Greece and Hungary has now come to a halt. The government of Hungary is now building a wall along the Serbian border to stop further immigration of the refugees (Novotný, 2015).

As most of the parts of Syria is under the control of the Islamic states, hence there is no probable chance of the country to come out of the clutches of the Islamic states in the near future. 7.6 million Syrians who have moved to safer places within the country and more than 4.2 million Syrians have migrated to the foreign lands (Willgress, 2015).

The European refugee crisis is another example where the international community has failed to share the burden of the neighboring states and countries (Horstmann, 2011). The international refugees system was build with the idea that the international countries should share the burden of the refugees equally and it is not the burden of one particular country. Until the developed countries come forward to take help, the nation it will be difficult to handle the crisis of the refugees. It is true that the developed countries are also facing problems to handle the increasing population of the refugees, yet it is the duty of the developed countries to help the refugees of the affected countries.

The literature review and the case study of the Syrian refugee, Aylan Kurdi will act as the secondary data for the research project. The literature review also points pot the specific problems faced by the refugees in the European countries. Moreover, the problems that are being faced but the European countries will is also highlighted in the literature review. Based in the on the data retrieved in the literature review the research design will be determined which will have a mixed method (Tight and Huisman, 2013). The message given to the world by Aylan’s father, Abdullah and the statistical data that will be presented in the research methodology will help the researchers to carry out a quantitative as well as qualitative analysis (Wrycza, 2011).

Research methodology

To complete the research project that deals with the Syrian refugees and the refugee crisis faced by the European countries, it is necessary that the secondary data be used. It is not possible to carry out the research by retrieving the primary data, as it will not be possible for the researcher to talk to the refugees or the higher officials of the European countries regarding the problems that they are facing (Goodson, Loveless and Stephens, 2012). Hence, the case study of Aylan Kurdi and the message of Abdullah Kurdi will act as the data for the qualitative analysis. In addition to this, the statistical data that will be presented in this section will act the quantitative data for the research work (Hoecke, 2011). Hence, mixed method that will take into consideration the quantitative as well as the qualitative approach will be used to complete the research work (Noble and Bestley, 2011).

As it has been discussed about the research objective that the main themes of the research work are:

The problems faced by the European countries while accommodating the refugees

The graphs that will be presented in this section that will indicate the growing number of refugees in the European countries. Eventually, the going number of refugees is making it impossible for the European countries to make space for refugees in the country (Green, 2015).

The problems faced by the Syrian refugees while relocating to other countries

The problems that the Syrian refuges are facing are presented thought the case study of Aylan Kurdi. The number of refugees from Syria is rising to such an extent that the refugees are dying while travelling from one place to another (Fijnaut, 2015).

syrian refugee crisis case study

Figure 3: asylum claims in the year 2015

(Source: BBC News, 2015)

The above image shows the asylum claims is highest in Germany out of all the European countries where the Syrian refugees migrate. The total number of asylum claims has reached a number of 942,400 in the month of September to November in the year 2015.

syrian refugee crisis case study

Figure 4: asylum application per 100,000 local populations

However, Germany has received the highest application for the asylum seekers. More than 1450 refugees per 100,000 Hungary’s local population claimed to stay in the country. In the first half of the year 2015, Hungary holds the highest population of refugees out of all the European countries (Grey, 2015). For Germany, it was 323 and for the United Kingdom, it was 30 applications. However, the number of applications increased in the case of Germany.

syrian refugee crisis case study

Figure 5: application for asylums from different counties in the European countries

The above graphs show the counties around the world which have applied in the European countries. The graphs show that between the period of January and October in the year 2015, the number of refugees from Syria has been the highest. Almost 180,000 fist time applicants who have applied for the asylum in the European countries in these10 months.

The European countries are already feeling the pressure of the refugees on the countries’ economic conditions and resources (Gulland, 2015). Out of all the European countries, Hungary, Italy and Greece are the most affected countries where the refugees arrive through boat and overland. In the month of September, the ministers from the various European countries have voted to relocate 120,000 refugees to other countries of Europe from the three above-mentioned countries. However, the reversed plan has been implemented where the number has been reduced to 66,000. The refuges will be mainly from Italy and Greece who will be relocated to other European countries (Krsteska, 2015). The remaining 54,000 refugees will be moved from Hungary but the government is yet to decide where to relocate them as other countries are also facing problem in giving place for the refugees to stay.

syrian refugee crisis case study

Figure 6: resettlement Figure 6: plan for the refuges

The above graph shows that Germany is currently the main choice for the ministers for the resettlement of the refugees. Germany will hold the maximum number of migrants both from Italy as well as from Greece. Though the United Kingdom was not ready to accept the refugees in the country, yet, the home offices figures show that there are 1000 Syrian refugees who have been relocated to the United Kingdom under the Vulnerable Person Relocation Scheme. However, to share the burden of the refugees, David Cameron, prime minister of the United Kingdom will accept the 20,000 refugees from Syria in the next five years (Nancheva, 2015).

syrian refugee crisis case study

Figure 7: the number of asylum grants to the refugees in the year 2014

In the year 2014, the European countries offered asylum to 184,655 refugees. In the year 2014, there are 570,000 refugees applied for asylums. As applications for the asylum system is a lengthy process, hence, some of the figures might include those application that have been applied in the ear 2013 (Pope, 2015).

There are various ways how the migrants get into the European countries, the waterways as the main route through which the migrants get into the European countries. In the year 2015, between January and November, 920,000 migrants have entered the European countries.

Thus, it can be seen that the pressure from the refugees from Syria is building on the European countries gradually. The European countries being open to the sea routes are more open to the refugees who are entering in the state through boats. The refugees have no other options as many of them do not have a valid passport and takes the sea route. The tragedy with Aylan Kurdi happened due to the overcrowded boat that was carrying Aylan and his family. Aylan is just a single case out of the millions refugees who lose their lives during the relocation.

Findings of the study

After completing the research on the refugee crisis and taking a note of the problems faced by the Syrian refugees by determining the case study of a Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi it can be said that the social problems are the main reason that give rise to problems of the refugees (Schiermeier, 2015). The growing number of the refugees can be seen from the increasing number of asylum applications that the European countries are receiving since the year 2013. The data revealed that the number of refugees from Syria is the highest. However, Germany is receiving the highest number of application for the asylum claims, yet is Hungary, which currently holds the highest population of the refugees. In addition to this, the countries are unable to cope with the growing number of refugees that Hungary has even thought of building a wall to prevent the refugees from entering the countries.

Conclusions and Recommendations

To solve the problems of the refuges it is necessary to go deep into the issue that make the citizens of one country to relocate to another country. The main problem that Syria is facing is the civil war that is going on in the country from the past four to five years. The government of Syria needs to be strong and take necessary measures to rid of the Islamic countries so that they can restore the peace and harmony of the country. It is the duty of the neighboring developed counties to extend their help to Syria and help the government to maintain peace and harmony in the country. The need of a stronger government is the current necessity for Syria. Once the Syria is able to bring back the peace then only the citizens will not have to move out of the country and live the life like the refugees.

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McDonough, P. and Tsourdi, E. (2012). The "Other" Greek Crisis: Asylum and Eu Solidarity. Refugee Survey Quarterly, 31(4), pp.67-100.

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The Syrian Refugee Crisis

The United States was built upon the simple phrase in the Declaration of Independence, stating that everyone has the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

From the Revolutionary War, where we fought for our independence, to World War I, where we joined forces with other countries for what we thought was right, the United states has always been a major influence in fostering independence for citizens of foreign countries. As a member of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), it is essential that I contribute to helping to provide aid and solutions for people around the world who. This can be done through repatriation, or returning people to their place of citizenship during crisis. Or through resettlement within the United States for refugees seeking somewhere safe when their countries are in turmoil. In the world the United States has always been a major leader in giving aid to the refugees that need it the most; at the same time preserving our national security.

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According to PRM, “since 1975, Americans have welcomed over 3 million refugees from all over the world”. All of these refugees have had to apply at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in their respective countries. This ensures that they will not pose a threat to the security of our country, and that they truly need to leave due to fear of what may happen to them if they were to stay. The Syrian refugee crisis has sparked a heated debate throughout the country. The Syrian civil war has threatened the lives of the more than 11 million Syrian citizens. They have fled to nearby countries like Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq.

This crisis began in around 2011 through peaceful protest as a part of the arab spring. The government began to fight back and the fight between them and the rebels has been ongoing. As time passes, ethnic syrian groups and groups among the rebels based on their religious views increased the intensity of the situation. When half of the population was either killed or forced to leave,the Syrian refugee crisis became the worst humanitarian crisis we have seen in a long time. The situation has been seen through the lens of those willing to be on the frontlines of the Syrian refugees attempting to get somewhere safe. Commonly associated with this “migration crisis”, as some may call it, is a picture of a lone child.

The picture of a three-year-old toddler “in a red T-shirt, blue shirts and Velcro sneakers, found face-down on a Turkish beach” (NPR). The death of that child is tragic in that another human life is lost, and the all the potential he had is gone with him as well. He will never have the chance to do the things that millions of other children do because of something completely avoidable. When a country like Syria is as chaotic as it is now, world powers like the United States need to intervene and protect them using the abundant resources that we have. United States citizens are usually compliant to the government wanting to participate in humanitarian aid.

However, recent events have caused them to question whether or not they want to allow refugees that could possibly pose a national security threat. The terrorist attacks that took place in Paris, France last year have urged leaders in different countries to halt the influx of Syrian refugees in fear that they could be associated with the infamous terrorist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS). This is all due to the fake passport found on a terrorist that claimed to be a Syrian refugee. The president’s plan to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees within the next year was stopped and the debate began within our country on what we should do. The conversations between government officials that deal with national security have increased greatly.

Of course, this is necessary because the country has a duty to protect the United States citizens. But after analyzing the situation, it is nearly impossible for a refugee to be a terrorist. Just the chances of a refugee being a terrorist is so slim. And considering the extensive application and screening process for all refugees, it is inhumane to deny these people the opportunity to be safe. Instead of preoccupying ourselves with modern entertainment in government, like the unsettlingly humorous political campaign, the country should work on saving as many lives as we can.

The United States has the capacity to help the mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons who risk their lives on only the chance of reaching our shores. The idea of the American Dream lives on in their hearts more than ever. Unfortunately, many governors have refused to house refugees in fear of the slight chance of negative consequences that could come from that. This has helped fuel negative assumptions that the American people have towards the newly resettled refugees; which creates a hostile environment for the refugees, and continues the use of stereotypes in our society. I feel it is my duty to implement a system that promotes positive messages about the refugees.

The United States can help by broadcasting factual data that supports helping the Syrian refugees. The information can be seen in public outlets such as bus stops and metro stations. The data can be supplied by trusted humanitarian non-profits such as Mercy Corps, a porminimnet advocate for refugees. States can find also sponsorship with popular media outlets to help cover costs as well. The reduction of stereotyping among United STates citizen will help to foster a healthy environment where the Syrian refugees can get better and live the life they deserve.

Finally, and probably the most important thing, making sure we do all we can to secure our national security interests. This can easily be achieved by enhancing the screening process for refugee applicants. The application process is already extensive to the point where allowing someone to come into the country with bad intentions is nearly impossible. Securing the process is assurance to the American people that we are keeping their interest in mind. With the combined efforts of the the government and the American people, we can help the less fortunate while ensuring our safety.

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The Syrian Crisis: The 8 Must Know Important Facts

Sandipan Dasgupta

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On September 2nd, 2015, the world woke up to the beginning of the new evil, the Syrian crisis, and the appalling photograph of a dead toddler lying on a beach in Turkey. The child Aylan Kurdi was three years old. Aylan, his mother, and his brother drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with his parents, he escaped Syria and fled to Europe after Canada rejected their refugee application.

The family was among thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing the war-torn country to nearby Europe. The chilling picture has caused global outrage and intense international attention to migration caused by war, political instability, and a complete breakdown of law and order in their native land.

The Syrian Crisis is an ongoing civil war in Syria that began in the spring of 2011 (The Arab Spring) with widespread protests against then-president Bashar Al-Assad, calling for political prisoners’ release. The protests were initially peaceful.

However, the protesters were subjected to violent crackdowns by government forces, including the National Security Force. Turning a deaf ear to the dissenter’s demands, they were subjected to detention, torture, and blatant violation of human rights.

The violent crackdowns led to the quick escalation of protests, and in no time, the rebels started fighting back against the administration.

The dissenters loosely organized themselves into various factions like the Syrian National Council (exiled Syrians), Free Syrian Army (Syrian military defectors), Islamic Front, etc. Months of in-fighting and bloody conflicts have turned the protests into a full-grown homicidal war. More than four years after it began, the civil war killed over 220,000 people.

According to the U.N, more than 7.8 million people have been internally displaced during the Syrian Crisis. Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey are hosting a majority of the refugees. While pressure mounts on these countries to sustain the influx of displaced people, thousands of Syrians are undertaking the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, hoping for a better life and future.

8 Facts About the Syrian Crisis

1. Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq hold 95 percent (3.8 mi) of refugees from Syria.

Lebanon hosts 1.1 mi refugees (26% of the country’s population) Jordan hosts 618,615 refugees Turkey hosts 1.6 mi refugees (2.4% of its population) Iraq hosts 225,373 refugees (0.6% of its population) Egypt hosts 142,543 refugees (0.17% of its population)

Note: Census based on refugees registered with United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

2. The number of deaths amounts to more than 190,000.

3. 10.8 mi are in urgent need of humanitarian aid inside Syria.

4. 378,684 people (in the 5 central host countries) urgently need resettlement.

5. Six Gulf Countries (Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain), Japan, Russia, Singapore , and South Korea have offered zero resettlement places.

6. Germany has assured 35,000 places for Syrian refugees through its humanitarian admission program.

7. Germany and Sweden have together received more than 95,500 new Syrian asylum applications in the last three years (64% of all such applications in the European Union)

8. The other 26 European Nations have promised a paltry 5105 resettlement places (0.13 % of the refugees in the five central host countries)

The Syrian Crisis

“The images from this massacre are sickening. Men, women, children lying in rows, killed by poison gas. Others foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath. A father clutching onto his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk. On that terrible night, the world saw in gruesome detail the terrible nature of chemical weapons and why the overwhelming majority of humanity has declared them off limits – a crime against humanity.”

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Climate Change Helped Spark Syrian War, Study Says

Research provides first deep look at how global warming may already influence armed conflict.

A severe drought, worsened by a warming climate, drove Syrian farmers to abandon their crops and flock to cities, helping trigger a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, according to a new study published Monday.

The research provides the most detailed look yet at how climate change may already be helping spark violent political unrest.

"Up until now we've understood and established that changes in climate may affect human conflict in the future. But everything until now has stopped short of saying climate change is already having an effect," says Solomon Hsiang , a University of California, Berkeley professor who has studied the role of climate change in violence. He did not participate in the new study.

The authors acknowledge that many factors led to Syria's uprising, including corrupt leadership, inequality, massive population growth, and the government's inability to curb human suffering.

But their report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , compiled statistics showing that water shortages in the Fertile Crescent in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey killed livestock, drove up food prices, sickened children, and forced 1.5 million rural residents to the outskirts of Syria's jam-packed cities—just as that country was exploding with immigrants from the Iraq war. (Related: " Half of Syrians Displaced: 5 Takeaways From New UN Report .")

After examining meteorological data, the researchers determined that natural variability alone was unlikely to account for the trends in wind, rain, and heat that led to the massive drought. All these factors, combined with high unemployment and bad government, helped tip Syria into violence. (Related: " Wars, Murders to Rise Due to Global Warming? ")

"Being able to, in a specific region, draw this story line together we think is pretty significant," says study co-author Richard Seager , a climate scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "The entire world needs to be planning for a drier future in that area. And there will be lots of global implications."

Drought and Migration

Scientists and the U.S. military have argued for years that rising temperatures will likely spur waves of human migration and battles over increasingly scarce resources—particularly water. That, however, has proved controversial, with other scientists arguing that there has been too little evidence to support the connection.

"There tends to be two points of view about this kind of research—either 'that's obvious' or 'that can't be true,'" Hsiang says. "This paper is an important contribution. It's building on a collection of results that has really gained a lot of momentum recently."

The research came about in part because one of the study's authors noticed that Syria's drought and wave of immigration occurred at the same time that violence was breaking out. "Then we looked at the fact that there had been this warming trend and drying trend, which takes moisture out of the soils at the same time," Seager says.

The drought was at least partially naturally occurring, he says, but it was the most severe on record, and its severity matched trends expected to occur with rising temperatures.

Still, he understands the limits of the research.

"All someone would have to say to criticize it is that all this would have occurred without the drought," Seager says. "That may well be true. This regime was tremendously unpopular to begin with."

But, Seager says, that's not how events unfolded. The drought increased the risk that the country would unravel, and climate change was almost certainly a factor in the drought.

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Syrian crisis altered region’s land and water resources, stanford study finds.

Using remote sensing tools to uncover the environmental impacts of war, researchers introduce novel approaches for hard-to-reach areas.

syrian refugee crisis case study

The Syrian civil war and subsequent refugee migration caused sudden changes in the area’s land use and freshwater resources, according to satellite data analyzed by Stanford researchers. The  findings , published in the Dec. 5 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are the first to demonstrate detailed water management practices in an active war zone. Using satellite imagery processed in Google Earth Engine, Stanford researchers determined the conflict in Syria caused agricultural irrigation and reservoir storage to decrease by nearly 50 percent compared to prewar conditions.

“The water management practices in Syria have changed and that’s visible from space,” said study co-author and principal investigator  Steven Gorelick , the Cyrus Fisher Tolman Professor in Stanford’s  School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences . “The Syrian crisis has resulted in a reduction in agricultural land in southern Syria, a decline in Syrian demand for irrigation water and a dramatic change in the way the Syrians manage their reservoirs.”

The study focuses on impacts from 2013 to 2015 in the Yarmouk-Jordan river watershed, which is shared by Syria, Jordan and Israel. Study co-author Jim Yoon, a PhD candidate in Earth system science at Stanford, thought of the idea to study the Syrian war’s impact on water resources when he noticed an increase in Yarmouk River flow based on streamflow data from Jordan’s Ministry of Water and Irrigation.

“The big challenge for us was that it was going to be next to impossible to get on-the-ground data in Syria,” Yoon said. “We couldn’t really close the story without this information in Syria – that was what led us to use remote sensing data.”

Using composite images of the 11 largest Syrian-controlled surface water reservoirs in the basin, researchers measured a 49 percent decrease in reservoir storage. Irrigated crops are greener than natural vegetation during the dry summer season. This characteristic was used to show Syria’s irrigated land in the basin had decreased by 47 percent.

Gorelick and his team looked at water management and land use on the Jordanian side of the Yarmouk basin and in Israel’s Golan Heights as a baseline for understanding areas unaffected by the refugee crisis.

New precedent

“It’s the first time that we could do large-scale remote sensing analysis in a war zone to actually prove a causal relation between conflict and water resources,” said lead author Marc Muller, a postdoctoral researcher in Gorelick’s lab. “With these new tools, you can do analysis and iterate very quickly – the effects were so strong, it was really easy to see right away.”

syrian refugee crisis case study

The research sets a precedent for using remote sensing data to understand environmental impacts in war zones or other areas where information otherwise could not be collected.

“To be able to get this type of detailed information about a region where data on the ground are scarce is an important contribution,” said Gorelick, who is also a senior fellow at the  Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment . “This shows in the extreme case how relevant information can be obtained in an efficient and scientifically valid manner.”

Refugees in Jordan

Syria’s abandonment of irrigated agriculture, combined with the region’s recovery from a severe drought, caused increased Yarmouk River flow to downstream Jordan, one of the most water-poor countries in the world. However, Jordan has absorbed hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria since 2013.

“It’s slightly good news for Jordan, but it’s not a big bonus compared to what Jordan has had to give up and sacrifice for the refugees,” Gorelick said. “Even in terms of providing water for the refugees, this transboundary flow is not compensation.”

Despite this unexpected result, Jordan’s flow from the Yarmouk River remains substantially below the volume expected under bilateral agreements with Syria, a result of legal and illegal reservoirs built in Syria, according to Gorelick.

The Jordan Water Project

Gorelick and his team have cooperated with Jordan on water management research since 2013 through the  Jordan Water Project  (JWP), a National Science Foundation-funded international effort to analyze freshwater resource sustainability. While experts speculate climate change can lead to conflict, Yoon said it was interesting to examine Syria from a different perspective.

“In the past few years, there’s been increasing focus on how climate change and drought influences conflict, but there hasn’t been as much research on how conflict can actually lead to impact on the environment and water resources,” Yoon said.

Ranked as one of the world’s top three water-poor countries, Jordan faces serious potential impacts from climate change. One of the key goals of the JWP is to develop an integrated hydro-economic model of the Jordanian water system in order to explore policy interventions.

Gorelick also directs the  Global Freshwater Initiative  at Stanford and runs the Hydrogeology and Water Resources Program  at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences.

Other co-authors on the study, “Impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on land use and transboundary freshwater resources,” include doctoral student Nicolas Avisse and Professor Amaury Tilmant from Université Laval in Quebec. Funding for the study was provided by the National Science Foundation through the Belmont Forum and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. The Swiss National Science Foundation provided postdoctoral support.

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Home / The impact of violence / Refugees and violence

The Refugee Explosion – Case study: Germany

This article is part of AOAV’s report , The Refugee Explosion . The whole report can be found here . Whilst the report introduction and methodology can be seen here . The key findings can be viewed here . The report overview of explosive violence and refugees can be read here , as well as on refugee destinations, here , asylum law in Europe, here , and political and economic developments, here .  AOAV’s country findings for the UK, and Greece can be found here and here , respectively. For the report’s overall findings please click here , or for AOAV’s resulting recommendations here . To read some of the interviews from refugees AOAV spoke to please see here .

AOAV identified three countries that have presented very different reactions to the crisis, as well as situations for the refugees and asylum seekers that inhabit their borders. AOAV sent field researchers to investigate how each country is responding to the refugee crisis. Refugees and asylum seekers in Greece, Germany and the UK were interviewed about their experiences in the host country as well as their reasons for seeking refuge. In total, over 250 filled in a questionnaire on such issues across the three countries.

Below are AOAV’s findings from Germany.



In 2015, according to Germany’s own refugee agency data , Germany registered a historic peak of 1,091,894 asylum seekers, the highest number of refugees arriving in a Western country since World War II. While 53,347 refugees applied for asylum in Germany 2011, that number rose by almost 400% within three years and by 2014, Germany was to receive some 202,843 applications. In the following year, this number soared further by 235% to 476,649 and reached its peak in 2016 with 745,545 applications.

This upwards trend was mainly caused by a surging number of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, all of which rank among AOAV’s top six countries worst affected by explosive violence 2011 to 2016.

The number of Syrian nationals who applied for protection in Germany skyrocketed by 10,108%, from 2,634 in 2011 to 266,250 in 2016. 7,767 Afghan nationals applied for protection in Germany 2011, which increased by 1,635% to 127,012 in 2016.

Applications from Iraqi nationals rose by 1,648% from 5,831 in 2011 to 96,116 in 2016.

The same three countries stand out as the countries whose nationals’ applications have the highest acceptance rates. In 2015, 95.8% of Syrian applicants were granted protection, 85.5% of Iraqis and 27.8% of Afghans. Applicants from Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Macedonia are consistently rejected with acceptance rates below 1% .

Germany’s refugee policy follows four patterns; first,Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan constantly rank among the top countries of origin, the top countries for positive asylum outcomes and are also among those most heavily affected by explosive violence. Secondly, refugees from Balkan countries are not affected by explosive violence and rejected with little exception.

Thirdly, applicants from Nigeria, Yemen and Pakistan are predominantly rejected as well, although all three countries rank among the AOAV’s list of countries worst affected by explosive violence.

Iran and Eritrea, where refugees are often persecuted according to the UN definition of a refugee, have a consistent acceptance rate of approximately 40%.


syrian refugee crisis case study

On August 25 th 2015, Berlin suspended the Dublin III regulation for Syrian nationals, thereby allowing them to apply for asylum in Germany even if they entered another EU Member State first. The step refuelled the debate of refugees in Germany – with politicians seeking to separate between ‘economic migrants’, people who come to Germany seeking personal economic betterment, and refugees who are forced to flee war and persecution.

Domestically, the arrival of refugees appears to have fuelled the rising popularity of right wing parties. Ten of the sixteen Länder in Germany had elections for their state parliaments from 2014 onwards. In all ten, the German neo-conservative right wing party ‘Alternative for Germany’ (Alternative für Deutschland – AfD) moved into parliament. Their presence is strong in Saxony Anhalt with 28% (25 of 87 seats), Mecklenburg-Vorpommern with 25% (18 of 71 seats) and Berlin with 15% (24 of 160 seats). In such a way, then, it is fair to surmise that explosive violence has been the main factor in propelling refugees to Germany and that concern over refugees in Germany has helped caused the rise of right wing parties there.

Such political changes have happened despite a relative absence of refugees being portrayed badly in the media. According to one media analysis , out of 34,000 examined articles from 2009 to 2015 in the German language media, 82% drew a positive picture of refugees, 12% were neutral and 6% were negative.

Furthermore, when the Dublin regulation was suspended for Syrian nationals, all the main German newspapers – FAZ, SZ and the tabloid paper Bild – backed Merkel’s decision. The reasons for this support can be partly found in Germany’s history. Vergangenheitsbewältigung, ‘coming to terms with the past’, plays a dominant role in the German political discourse. The collective guilt of the Holocaust, linked to the notion that Germany has learnt from its past contributed to the responsible media coverage and a widely positive reaction towards refugees who flee from war and violence.

Furthermore, the refugee crisis has been seen to many to constitute a massive economic stimulus programme for Germany. Estimated costs of the refugee crisis range between 20 and 30 billion Euros. This has boosted SME growth and created employment , despite the common perception of “foreigners stealing jobs”.


All applications for asylum in Germany are processed by the Federal Agency for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).

This agency decides which type of protection the German state offers to an asylum seeker. Such an application can have five potential outcomes ; an applicant is awarded refugee protection (Flüchtlingss-chutz); entitlement to asylum (Asylberechtigung); subsidiary protection (subsidiärer chutz); a national ban on deportation (nationales Abschiebungsverbot); or the applicant is rejected (abgelehnt).

From a legal perspective, refugee protection and entitlement to asylum are different in Germany as asylum constitutes a constitutional right, whereas refugee protection is a status defined under international law.

De facto, a person granted refugee protection receives the same rights and benefits as a person entitled to asylum. The right to asylum is based on Article 16a para. 1 of the Basic Law and is granted to a person who is persecuted on political grounds. A person entitled to asylum receives a residence permit for three years, is entitled to privileged family reunification, unrestricted access to the labour market and can apply for citizenship after three years, if sufficient knowledge of German language and a stable income can be shown. Refugees are granted the same rights.

Section 3 subs. 1 of the Asylum Act transposes the UNCRSR provisions into German law. Accordingly, refugee status is awarded in Germany following the definition from 1951 .

Section 4 subs. 1 of the Asylum Act transposes the EU Directive’s targets into German national law. German law uses the exact wording of the Directive on serious harm. Although the provisions of preamble 35 2011/95/EU are not included in the German Asylum Act, serious harm has to exist in the form of an ‘individual threat’. Legally speaking, this excludes many types of explosive violence, as its indiscriminate nature does not intentionally target individuals. Civilian casualties are termed a ‘by-product’.

According to AOAV’s field research, the ‘individual threat’ lies at the heart of Germany’s asylum decision-making. Refugees must prove that the threat they face is more than a general exposure to war and violence, except for Syrian nationals who arrived between 25 th August 2015 and 20 th March 2016. Authorities scrutinise the evidence meticulously; refugees are obliged to present written evidence, show pictorial evidence and describe situations in full detail in order to prove their origin and story.

Bans on deportation

Bans on deportation are issued when an applicant is rejected but where a return to the home country would breach Germany’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), or if the ‘foreigner faces a substantial concrete danger to his or her life and limb or liberty’ (Section 60 subs. 5, subs. 7 Residence Act).

Though these bans are a ‘method of last resort’, issued when the court judges the situation too dangerous for the applicant to return, critics say that they cause stress, fear and uncertainty as the situation is reassessed every six months, leaving the individual in a state of permanent insecurity as to their future.

Most recent bans on deportation have been issued for Afghan nationals: 19% of all applications from Afghan nationals in 2015 and 18.9% in 2014.

These high numbers indicate that explosive violence may well be considered a reason for a ban on deportation. Nonetheless, Germany began to deport rejected asylum-seekers to Afghanistan in December 2016.

According to the German Federal Chamber of psychotherapists (BPTK), between 40 and 50% of refugees in Germany suffer from PTSD and around 50% show signs of depression. Approximately 40% of those with a psychological illness were reported to have plans to commit suicide or had tried to do so.

However, only 4% refugees of those suffering from PTSD had access to therapy . German law (Directive 2013/33/EU was transposed into national law) only grants psychological assistance to unaccompanied refugee minors, and to victims of torture, rape or other forms of serious psychological, sexual or physical violence. Explosive violence does not constitute a reason for treatment.

Usually, authorities determine whether an asylum seeker is to be granted access to therapy in the first 15 months of the application process. Problems often lie in such decision-making; officials or doctors are often responsible for determining the extent of psychological wounds, not qualified psychologists. Additionally, psychological illness is often judged as non-urgent or treated solely with medication.

After 15 months, refugees have the same access to public healthcare as German nationals. AOAV’s research found that many refugees in Germany are not informed as to how to access psychological support. Moreover, psychological problems are not recognised as a medical problem in the cultures of some of the refugees, hence seeking such support is often stigmatised. Most importantly, refugees are often too traumatised to leave their camps to seek support; flashbacks, the unknown environment and even open racism on the streets can, it was said by some, become an insurmountable barrier.


102 questionnaires were completed in Germany. Of those who filled in the questionnaire, the three main countries of origin were Syria (with 51), Afghanistan (18), and Iraq (13).

Experience of explosive violence

According to AOAV’s field research in Germany, 67% of refugees interviewed said that they were personally impacted by explosive violence. 55% of Syrians said that they were directly affected by or exposed to explosive violence, compared to 92% of Iraqis and 100% of Afghans.

47% reported witnessing the use of airstrikes, 57% saw shelling and 50% had seen an IED attack (including roadside bomb, suicide attack, and car bomb) – all of which fulfil the criteria to most likely cause trauma, as they are unexpected, repetitive and/or intentionally cruel.

Reasons for fleeing

51% said that they were fleeing from war, whilst an additional 13% cited safety as their main reason for fleeing.

40% of the refugees reported that their homes were destroyed, while 29% did not know what happened to their homes.

syrian refugee crisis case study

22% of refugees that AOAV spoke to in Germany said they had been offered psychological assistance.  It must be noted, however, that highly traumatised refugees may not leave the confines of the camps or agree to be interviewed, so this number is unlikely to represent the exact situation.

Germany showed an impressive dedication to human rights when it symbolically opened the doors for refugees from Syria on 25 th August 2015. Seven months later, the doors were closed. The EU-Turkey deal, largely negotiated by Merkel after she came under pressure from the right, was a step back from this position.

AOAV interviewed many refugees who lived in Turkey before they travelled to Europe, and all agreed that Turkey is increasingly becoming autocratic, civil rights are being eroded, refugees struggle to find paid work, and support is limited to their most basic needs.

Accordingly, the EU-Turkey deal should be subject to greater scrutiny, and re-evaluated so that the needs and safety of refugees are held above all else, with parallel support from EU states to ensure these provisions are met in Turkey.

Germany’s deportation of refuges back to Afghanistan should be done with extreme caution. Afghanistan has been plagued by explosive violence for decades and consistently ranks among the top five countries worst affected by explosive violence on AOAV’s Explosive Violence Monitor. Many refugees from Afghanistan that AOAV spoke to were deeply fearful of deportation – there have been reports of Afghan returnees from Pakistan and Europe who have been killed when they were returned and others who committed suicide after being told they were being deported.

Whilst Germany for the most part provides adequate living situations for refugees, the main problems are for those who must reside in mass shelters in which more than 100 people live in a single space. Mass shelters can be an extremely stressful environment, particularly for pregnant women, children and those who suffer from psychological distress. Germany should avoid the use of such shelters and seek move those residing in these shelters to somewhere more adequate.

Psychological support is essential for many refugees and may be necessary to help integration. The free psychological care that was provided to some was said to be incredibly helpful to those that AOAV inter viewed. However, those in most need often do not receive such support, as many are either unaware the support exists or do not know how to access these services. AOAV found repeatedly that those who witnessed explosive violence experienced mental suffering, however support was rarely offered. More efficient screening and extending psychological assistance to more refugees is considered likely to have a positive effect on refugees and German society as a whole.

Germany’s asylum law requires the asylum-seeker to define the ‘individual threat’ he or she faces at home. Such specific issues require professional translations; however, these are often not available. As Afghans do not enjoy the high acceptance rates of Syrians and often do not fall into the Refugee Convention category of a refugee, they must meticulously describe the threat they face at home. For such complex topics, interpreters and translations need to be well-trained and under oath.  Inadvertent mistakes could lead to the deportation of a whole family.

syrian refugee crisis case study

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    The problems that the Syrian refuges are facing are presented thought the case study of Aylan Kurdi. The number of refugees from Syria is rising to such an extent that the refugees are dying while travelling from one place to another (Fijnaut, 2015). Figure 3: asylum claims in the year 2015 (Source: BBC News, 2015)

  10. (PDF) A Crisis Within a Crisis: Working and Living Conditions of Syrian

    This study explores how the COVID-19 crisis and its preventive measures impact refugees' welfare in the context of a developing country. ... three main reasons make Jordan an exe mplary case ...

  11. The Syrian Refugee Crisis

    The Syrian refugee crisis has sparked a heated debate throughout the country. The Syrian civil war has threatened the lives of the more than 11 million Syrian citizens. They have fled to nearby countries like Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. This crisis began in around 2011 through peaceful protest as a part of the arab spring.

  12. UNHCR

    2015: The year of Europe's refugee crisis. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled across the Mediterranean Sea this year to escape war and persecution. Here are seven key events in this unfolding drama. Syrian and Afghan refugees paddle towards the Greek island of Lesvos. The influx of refugees and migrants to Europe reached staggering new ...

  13. The Syrian Crisis: The 8 Must Know Important Facts

    8 Facts About the Syrian Crisis. 1. Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq hold 95 percent (3.8 mi) of refugees from Syria. Note: Census based on refugees registered with United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) 2. The number of deaths amounts to more than 190,000.

  14. Case Studies Archive

    case study Farzad describes the impact of long waits in the asylum system Asylum backlogs are affecting the mental health and wellbeing of people seeking asylum. case study Adil's story Adil knew his job was dangerous to him and his family but he was proud to… case study Raakin's story

  15. Syrian Refugee Migration, Transitions in Migrant Statuses and Future

    1. INTRODUCTION. This article discusses the refugee and migrant outflows that have been generated by the war in Syria. In combination, refugees' human agency and the responses of receiving countries to the inflows of Syrian refugees have resulted in distinct patterns of refugee flows and a variety of changing legal categories of Syrian refugees and migrants.

  16. Policies of Exclusion: The Case of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

    The case study method provides an in-depth understanding of contextual elements related to refugees' living conditions ( Creswell 2007 ). The longitudinal study allows us to assess the refugee situation over 4 years, with the specific intention of evaluating how refugees relate to their spaces.

  17. The Syrian Refugee Crisis and the European Union: A Case Study of

    DOI: 10.25148/etd.FIDC004023 Corpus ID: 159001315; The Syrian Refugee Crisis and the European Union: A Case Study of Germany and Hungary @inproceedings{Schelb2017TheSR, title={The Syrian Refugee Crisis and the European Union: A Case Study of Germany and Hungary}, author={Simone-Ariane Schelb}, year={2017} }

  18. Climate Change Helped Spark Syrian War, Study Says

    A severe drought, worsened by a warming climate, drove Syrian farmers to abandon their crops and flock to cities, helping trigger a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people,...

  19. Syrian Refugee Crisis Case Study

    Syrian Refugee Crisis Case Study | Top Writers 1811 Orders prepared Nursing Management Business and Economics Economics +96 First time here? Get 10% OFF your order 578 Finished Papers Undergraduate 4.9 (2939 reviews) Syrian Refugee Crisis Case Study It's your academic journey. Stop worrying. Kick back and score better!

  20. Syrian crisis altered region's land and water resources, Stanford study

    The Syrian civil war and subsequent refugee migration caused sudden changes in the area's land use and freshwater resources, according to satellite data analyzed by Stanford researchers. The findings, published in the Dec. 5 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are the first to demonstrate detailed water management practices in an active war zone. Using satellite imagery ...

  21. The Refugee Explosion

    According to AOAV's field research in Germany, 67% of refugees interviewed said that they were personally impacted by explosive violence. 55% of Syrians said that they were directly affected by or exposed to explosive violence, compared to 92% of Iraqis and 100% of Afghans.