The massive dimensions of Syria’s refugee crisis—and the search for solutions
The civil war in Syria has forced some 10 million people—more than half the country’s population—from their homes and communities, creating one of the largest human displacements since the end of World War II. Daily headlines testify to their plight, both within Syria and in the countries to which they have fled.
The Consequences of Chaos looks beyond the ever-increasing numbers of Syria’s uprooted to consider the long-term economic, political, and social implications of this massive movement of people. Neighboring countries hosting thousands or even millions of refugees, Western governments called upon to provide financial assistance and even new homes for the refugees, regional and international organizations struggling to cope with the demands for food and shelter—all have found the Syria crisis to be overwhelming in its challenges. And the challenges of finding solutions for those displaced by the conflict are likely to continue for years, perhaps even for decades.
The Syrian displacement crisis raises fundamental questions about the relationship between action to resolve conflicts and humanitarian aid to assist the victims and demonstrates the limits of humanitarian response, even on a massive scale, to resolve political crises. The increasingly protracted nature of the crisis also raises the need for the international community to think beyond just relief assistance and adopt developmental policies to help refugees become productive members of their host communities.
Elizabeth Ferris is a senior research associate in Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a nonresident senior fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution. She previously served as co-director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement and has extensive experience working with humanitarian issues.
Kemal Kirisci is the TUSIAD Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings. Previously, Kirisci was a professor of international relations and held the Jean Monnet chair in European integration in the department of political science and international relations at Bogaziçi University in Istanbul. Kirisci has written extensively on immigration and refugees in Turkey.