March 2016 marks the end of the 5th year since the start of the Syrian conflict. Influenced by the Arab Spring sweeping across a number of countries in the region, protestors in many parts of Syria took to the streets demanding political reform.
A few months in, the protests turned violent as armed clashes erupted between regime forces and various rebel groups, with the conflict eventually escalating into a full-fledged civil war, with regional and global ramifications.
As a result of this conflict, now entering its sixth year, the United Nations has declared that over 4.6 million Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries, and a further seven million have been internally displaced within Syria*, as of February 2016, resulting in one of the largest refugee movements in recent history.
Two thirds of those leaving the country settled in Lebanon or Jordan, and now make up a significant portion of the population in both countries. In Lebanon, Syrians make up 1 in 5 residents, while in Jordan, they make up 1 in 7 residents. This sudden major influx of refugees has put serious economic and social strains on the two host countries, which in turn, has impacted the lives of the Syrians refugees taking shelter within them.
In a bid to understand what it means to be a Syrian refugee in a host country, Ipsos MENA surveyed 2,200 Syrian Households in Lebanon and Jordan, gathering information on over 13,000 Syrian refugees, looking at their daily lives, challenges, attitudes, and future aspirations.
Conducted between August 2014 and March 2015, the survey focused on Syrian refugees currently residing outside of refugee camps, a segment, while often ignored, makes up over 85% of refugees in both countries, and arguably, one which faces more difficult challenges.
The results reveal that Syrian refugees have escaped from one life of struggles only to be faced by another. In their quest for normalcy, the majority have seemingly tried to pick up the pieces to restart their lives in the host countries, yet face challenges in assembling even the simplest of pillars that make up a basic standard of living, such as providing regular income for their families through employment, or an education for their children.
Furthermore, as a result of these difficulties, most refugees see their current state as one of transition, and most have hopes of an immediate return to their homes once the conflict ends.
*United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs