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Irresolvable Dilemmas? The Prospects for Repatriation for Syrian Refugees

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The Syrian conflict has entered its Brief Points second decade, and while fighting has subsided, the prospects for an inclusive settlement remain grim. With 6.7 million registered refugees, Syrians constitute over 25% of the global refugee population. Another 6.6 million are internally displaced (12% of the global total). The majority are hosted in neighboring countries – Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey in particular – where conditions have deteriorated rapidly and pressure for return is mounting. Yet, over the past five years, only 268,000 “voluntary returns” have been registered, and the pace is not picking up. Doors to other countries are also largely shut. Syrian refugees find themselves in a bind, between staying on in increasingly skeptical host communities or returning to an insecure future.

Brief Points

• In all of the major host countries for Syrian refugees – Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey – hospitality is wearing thin, while an increasing share of refugees face economic deprivation.

• Openings for third country resettlement have shrunk significantly, as have possibilities for onward migration.

• Returning to Syria is fraught with risks – economically, socially and in terms of security – and rates of return, despite mounting pressure, have recently declined.