CONF.795 – Blog Post #1 – Syrian Crisis

With no end in sight for the resolution of the Syrian crisis and increasing likelihood for spin-off conflicts spreading across the region, UNHCR is reporting that the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) may double by the end of the 2014.
UNHCR is predicting the IDP numbers to reach 6.5 million by the end of 2014, from the current 3.5 million people.
A UNHCR breakdown of refugees by country shows 900,000 in Lebanon, 600,000 in Turkey, 590,000 in Jordan, 215,000 in northern Iraq, 135,000 in Egypt, 20, 000 in North Africa and 30,000 in other countries (source:, retrieved February 6, 2014).

Discussion: How have relations or tensions between the displaced Syrians and their ‘hosts’ affected the two groups (i) those displaced; and (ii) the hosts.


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    • Claudine Kuradusenge on February 7, 2014 at 12:48 am
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    From experience, I know that the only things one can take, while leaving his or her country, are almost Nothing. Therefore, most refugees only have the clothes they wear while crossing the border. Losing all their properties, escaping to a new country, with little hope to return home, is difficult for most. The refugee camps are often overwhelmed by the influx of new refugee that need to be registered. The lack of proper sanitation, enough food to feed everyone, and infrastructures to help them deal with psychological trauma are what refugees face regularly.

    For the host countries, Syrian’s refugees represent an overwhelming burden. The countries have to face economies and social crisis. Enough infrastructures need to be build to host the thousands of refugees crossing daily. The increase flow of refugees also affect the psychological aspect of the country. Negative perceptions tend to grow in the host public opinion and impact not only the refugees, but the government’s attitude and citizens. The lack of appropriate resources and overcrowded camps can also lead to criminality within the camps.

    As we can see, the relationships between refugees and host countries can be very tense. Host countries usually allow refugees to settle to a place safer than their country of origin. Unfortunately, refugees tend to upset the country’s normal state and bring challenges.

  1. It is hard to believe that the crisis in Syria has been raging for almost three years now and it shows no signs of easing anytime soon. I have recently heard that experts are predicting that it will likely last 10 years or more; making this a severely protracted and destabilizing issue in a region that is already on shaky ground. The number of asylum seekers is already over 3 million and most of those are seeking refuge in the neighboring countries of Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, and Iraq, as Professor Rajput mentions. These countries, already facing internal turmoil, environmental disasters such as droughts, and economic recessions, have been very accommodating to the Syrians who have crossed over their borders. However, it is hard to imagine this generosity will continue as we see tensions mounting as the presence of refugees exacerbates or create problems for communities in these host countries.

    Catherine Burn’s examination of Jacques Derrida’s writings on the notion of ‘hospitality’ somewhat encompasses the dynamics at play here with he ‘host’ and ‘guest’ duality and the fact that the Syrian refugees’ unconditional welcome is waning in most places. While discussing protection problems for refugees, Ninette Kelley points out that “Anti-refugee sentiment can be fueled by environmental damage…deforestation, soil erosion, lower water tables, pollution, over-cultivation…” as well as threats to the safety of locals, and perceived preferential treatment of refugees over local community members (pg. 405). In my peripheral knowledge of the Syrian refugee situation, it is not hard to connect these examples to actual situations on the ground, such as the massive water shortage in northern Jordan, or employers favoring cheaper Syrian labor in Lebanon. These issues are not only contributing to Syrian refugee insecurity as grievances against them add up, but the host communities and countries are forced to confront new conflicts of their own which might further subvert already tenuous domestic conditions.

    As a timely side note, Reuters reported that the Obama administration announced on February 5 that they had eased some of the immigration restrictions for Syrians claiming asylum in the U.S. Apparently the U.S. only admitted 31 last year. (

    • Brad Davis on February 7, 2014 at 3:49 pm
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    Syrian refugee camps in Jordan are buckling at the seams. The Zaatari refugee camp is the largest of the camps in Jordan with a population well over 120,000. Despite this, the refugee camps only house an estimated 30 percent of refugees with the remaining 70 percent dispersed throughout Jordanian host communities. The demands for health services coupled with an unpredictable utilization pattern are straining Jordanian capacity. This dynamic creates a significant human security threat in the form of communicable disease. An epidemic threatens both the Syrian refugees and the Jordanian host population. Additionally, the resource demand imposed by the refugees reduces access for the Jordanian host population. The Jordanian Minister of Health explains, “Excessive demands on our health system pose risks to our health status and social stability.”(1)

    Refugees have rioted over the poor living conditions in the Zaatari camp as the influx of refugees continues to strain Jordanian and international resources.(2) Media reporting of violence in the camps further stresses already strained relations between the refugees and their host communities. Additionally, the threat of spillover from the camps to the northern cities hosting even larger numbers of Syrian refugees cannot be ignored.

    The influx of refugees is impacting all of Syria’s neighbors. With refugee numbers reaching 567,000 in Jordan, 540,000 in Turkey, 207,000 in Iraq, and as many as one million in Lebanon, David Miliband, British politician and president of the International Rescue Committee, said the strain has pushed Syria’s neighbors “beyond…the breaking point”.(3)

    1. Murshidi, M. M., Hijjawi, M. Q. B., Jeriesat, S., & Eltom, A. (2013). Syrian refugees and jordan’s health sector. The Lancet, 382(9888), 206. doi: Date Accessed: 2014/02/07.

    2. “Jordan; Syrian refugees clash with police.” Ottawa Citizen. (September 26, 2012 Wednesday ): 89 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2014/02/07.

    3. Syrian refugees: Britain’s moral obligation. (2014, Jan). New Statesman, 143, 5. Retrieved from
    1490688589?accountid=4444. Date Accessed: 2014/02/07.

    • Nida on February 7, 2014 at 7:18 pm
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    These numbers of refugees are truly alarming and show how every second another person is forced to flee Syria. The numbers also reflect how difficult it is for the host countries to handle the people coming in as well as giving the international community enough time to come up with timely solutions. The flooding of Syrian refugees into the host countries further widens those countries ability to handle the situation. In turn, tensions are sparked and exacerbated. It affects those displaced because they have no other options and feel extremely vulnerable. There is a likelihood of locals resenting the displaced, given they are coming in huge numbers and there is no timeline for how long they will stay for. And most of the host countries already are hosting other refugees that need to be taken care of. Add that to a country’s own internal problems; the burden can be too much for both sides. The generosity of the hosts is outstanding, but their ability in continuing to absorb more refugees is worrisome because taking in more people is not infinite. When host counties run out of resources and can’t take in more people, there will be a tipping point that will turn messy.

    • Adnan Hurreh on February 7, 2014 at 8:19 pm
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    Since the start of the three year civil war, the situations between IDPs and host communities in Syria have strained from initial reports. In certain areas of Syria particularly in Damascus or segments of Aleppo local population, increased tensions between IDPs and host communities have been slowly increasing due to the tremendous pressure placed upon basic social services. For host communities their basic services are struggling to cope with the additional demands. This strain of resources is the primary factor for the tension between the host community and IDPs. Not much information I found on the views of IDPs in Syria, but I would assume that they feel the tension directed towards them. Has anyone found any information on IDPs views on the host communities in Syria?

    • Joseph Yarsiah on February 7, 2014 at 8:25 pm
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    Normally, the relationship between the two groups will have to be examined prior to the conflict. Most often, if the relationships isn’t already cordial or does not improve, it overflow of more displaced persons or refugees could further deescalate and create more tensions, threatening conditions and treatments for the displaced groups. At the rate of which the conflict in Syria is being prolonged, the real security threat is going to dramatically shift to displacement concerns and safety for Syria and international community rather than the actual conflict itself. Not just for the displaced minorities but for the host community as well.

    • Kaitlyn on February 8, 2014 at 12:54 am
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    The relationship between the Syrian refugees and their host communities follows patterns described in the article we read by Ninette Kelly. There have been reports of child exploitation, early marriages in hopes of better economic ties, and sex trafficking. In Lebanon currently one in for people are Syrian refugees. The government has refused to build refugee camps, so the cost of living has been driven up. The issue of shelter in addition to an increase in competition for jobs and a strain on infrastructure contribute to the animosity between the refugees and the host community; these are factors related to relative deprivation theory.

  2. Syria is facing a serious humanitarian crisis with no end in sight. The nearly three-year conflict has stretched the number of IDPs and refugees into the millions — a reality that has no doubt created tensions between those displaced and their host communities. As Catherine Brun notes, when displacement becomes protracted, the hosts become “increasingly tired of being hosts.” This can often result in tensions over resources (water, food, land), access to services (education, healthcare), and employment (lack of, lower wages). Given that the conflict is ongoing, I imagine that these tensions are not only limited to IDPs vs. hosts, but has also extended more generally to civilians belonging to different ethnic/religious groups.

    With regards to IDPs, most of what I have read regarding Syrian IDPs says they are constantly “on the move.” Thus, perhaps these tensions between hosts and IDPs will not become truly apparent until the war has ended. Right now, many are in a similar situation as one woman noted, “The situation is the same for all of us, whether or not we are for or against the regime, or whether or not we are Sunni or Alawi…none of us will ever go home again.” On the other hand, the U.N. estimates that about 75 percent of the Syria’s population will need aid in 2014. I anticipate this will lead to increased frictions between IDPs and host communities over receipt of aid.

    With regards to refugees, the situation is just as complicated and many host countries fear spillover effects. Turkey, for example, is reaching the limits of its hospitality. Originally viewed as a “temporary” situation, the country is now home to 21 refugee camps (this does not include the hundreds of thousands more not in formal camps). The government says the influx of refugees is straining its resources and locals complain that “poor Syrians…drain the economy…and threaten security.” It is for this very reason – fear of permanence – that Lebanon will not establish official refugee camps. Syrian refugees are also disappointed with the relationship. Specifically, Syrians returning to Syria after having fled to Turkey said they would rather die at home than be treated as second-class citizens: “We have lost everything in Syria. We are going to die in Syria.”

    On a more positive note, there are grassroots efforts within host countries working to prove humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees. In Lebanon, one university student has created the group “I am not a tourist.” The name serves as “wake-up call to fellow Lebanese that Syria’s crisis is on their doorstep and they can no longer act like bystanders.” One of the groups efforts included collecting winter clothing and blankets for the refugee community in northern Lebanon. About 4,500 people donated items to fill 25 big trucks. This, at least, is a positive for the refugee-host relationship.


    • Catherine Walsh on February 8, 2014 at 3:13 pm
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    The number of Syrian refugees is truly devastating and alarming. With the end of the conflict not in sight, the influx is only growing. I travelled with Dr. Gopin to Syrian refugee camps this past spring. While in Turkey we also met with Turkish government officials to discuss the refugee crisis. While everyone we talked to seemed very sympathetic to the issue, and felt an obligation to help their neighbors, the issue has of course placed a strain on the host countries. I remember Dr. Gopin recalling to us that in many refugee camps in Jordan the crisis was difficult to manage causing an inadequate standard in living for refugees; in some cases, refugees were dying from a lack of water. This has made the situation for refugees dire.

    • Aleia Elnaeim on February 8, 2014 at 5:41 pm
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    In the last three years, one in three Syrians has left their homes as either internally displaced person IDPs inside Syria or as refugees in the neighboring countries, Europe, and Africa. Despite Geneva 1 and 2, it seems that the current protracted conflict might continue for a long time pushing even more Syrians to flee the deteriorating situation. Consequently, we can argue that, today’s IDPs are tomorrow’s refugees. The enormous number of refugees creates great pressure on resources in host countries especially Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Jordon who receive the biggest number of the Syrian refugees. These countries need to be supported in their efforts to host Syrian refugees especially children, bearing in mind that they have their own internally problems and instability in a way or another. For example, Lebanon has been overwhelmed by more than 500,000 Palestinians refugees according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). For the Syrian refugees, the gloomy picture in their country puts more pressure on their part in terms of relational issues and the uncertainty of return.
    The support I am talking about should come from regional and international organizations such as the Arab League, the World Bank, and United Nation. For instance, The Arab League can play a big role, at least in the humanitarian issues

    • ann on February 9, 2014 at 1:37 pm
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    My overall concern with the Syrian refugees as the conflict becomes more protracted is that they will become increasingly susceptible to extremism. Extremist groups have used refugee and IDP camps as recruiting grounds and while this probably won’t impact a majority of the individuals, if even a small number of the Syrian refugee/IDP communities is influenced by extremism at the camps, it’s like the conflict could be fueled by additional rebel and extremist groups.

    • Aloysius on February 10, 2014 at 12:40 am
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    Like any other refugee crisis, the Syrian refugees in Turkey are confronted with a multitude of problem. The host country has an obligation to protect them under the convention and the Protocol but the numbers overwhelm the government. The refugees themselves are not trusted by the host communities as some are seen as part of the problem in Syria. Their settlement in Turkey is a security threat to the government.
    Also, there are tensions among the refugees arising from religion and political inclination. Suspicions rise high in the camps due to these tensions and therefor hinder the proper management of the camps.

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