Whenever a violent civil war erupts in any country, it automatically brings in some serious regional and global implications. One of them is the large-scale refugee crisis caused by the displacement of the population from the country in question. The Syrian refugee crisis resulting from its ongoing civil war has become one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. Approximately 6.6 million people were forced to leave their country in order to escape the violence. Another 6.6 million have become internally displaced with no roof over their head (Yurova, 2020). Most of the refugees have found asylum in their neighboring countries that include Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan. Some of the refugees have escaped to European countries as well.
The conflict in Syria started back in 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring. Protests spread across the state demanding reforms and to overthrow the Assad regime. However, the conflict was quick to turn into a civil war when the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was formed. After that time, the civil war in Syria has only been intensified and polarized along with sectarian lines. This has turned the Sunni majority of the country against the Shia minority groups(Howe, 2012). Another important dimension has been added by the presence of armed non-state actors, the Islamic State group. Their rise and fall have turned this into a proxy war drawing many regional and global powers. The civil war has become complex more than ever containing multiple stakeholders and interests.
Syrian civil war has put a massive amount of burden on the neighboring countries hosting its refugees. Turkey has been hosting the largest number of Syrian refugees with more than 3.5 million and among them, 1,552,839 are registered refugees. According to UNHCR, nearly one in every five people living in Lebanon is now a Syrian refugee (UNHCR, 2020). The country has approximately 1,146,405 registered refugees. Jordan has almost 622,856 registered refugees. A considerable number of refugees have taken shelter in Iraq and Egypt, accommodating respectively 228,484and 137,812 registered refugees. Syria is also the first country for the origin of refugees in almost 44 industrialized countries in Europe, North America, and the Asia Pacific region (Ostrand, 2015).
Even though the host countries have begun to develop new strategies and response framework to deal with the refugee crisis, the problems faced by the Syrian refugees in their host countries don’t seem to end.
The income-generating activities for the Syrian refugees are extremely scarce in their host countries with the income-expenditure gap continuously increasing. For both the host communities and Syrian refugees, the cost of living, livelihood sustainability, rent levels, food insecurity, and indebtedness are serious concerns. Most Syrian refugees have to find unskilled and temporary work in the host countries. In countries like Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan only 30% of the working wage refugees are employed that too with a declining wage level (Couldrey and Herson, 2015). According to Couldrey and Herson, (2015), Refugees living in the urban host areas have limited opportunities and equally exposed to vulnerabilities the same as those living in the camps. Mostly the informal work sectors provide employment opportunities for the refugees. This is because Syrian refugees do not have a legal entitlement to work in Lebanon or Jordan without a work permit. The working environment in the informal sectors is exploitive with low wages.
Apart from the economic and social insecurities, the Syrian refugees have undergone a serious level of mental traumas. Separation from the family members, loss of children or parents, and constant exposure to torture and terror of bombs and weapons have made them even more vulnerable (Fisher, 2015). Most Syrian refugees have been displaced multiple times and forced to flee crossing the borders with nothing but uncertainty. These people are in the dire need of counseling for their psychological sufferings.
The Arab region is already hosting a large number of refugees from Palestine and Iraq. The Syrian refugee crisis is putting extra strain on the neighboring host countries and the international community. The large-scale arrival of refugees on a daily basis has hindered the social, economic, and humanitarian development of the host countries. The civil war in Syria seems nowhere near to end with the constant failure of every peace process. This eliminates the possibility of Syrian refugees returning to their homeland making the crisis protracted.
Yurova, A. (2020). Syrian refugee crisis, ArcGIS StoryMaps, Retrieved from: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/a8e0265ddb424c689469f069cd404280
Howe, Z. (2012). Can the 1954 Hague Convention applyto non-State actors? A study of Iraq and Libya,Texas International Law Journal,47(2).
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2020). Syria Refugee Crisis Explained, Retrieved from: https://www.unrefugees.org/news/syria-refugee-crisis-explained/
Ostrand, N. (2015). The Syrian Refugee Crisis: A Comparison of Responses by Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States, Journal on Migration and Human Security, 3(3), 255-279
Couldrey, M., Herson, M. (2015). The Syria crisis,displacement and protection, Forced Migration Review, 47.
Fisher, N. (2015). Foreword: the inheritance of loss, Forced Migration Review, Retrieved from: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/syria_1.pdf