report cover image

This report, developed by the World Bank, analyzes the spontaneous mobility of Syrian refuges in three refugee hosting countries – Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq – from an economic and social perspective. To carry out the analysis, the study 1.) considers international experience to identify push and pull factors; 2.) investigates the conditions faced by Syrians inside and outside Syria; 3.) estimates the relative importance of the identified factors based on returns that have already occurred; and 4.) outlines possible future scenarios based on predicted changes to the situation in Syria.

Syrians both inside and outside Syria face continuing hardships as a result of nearly eight years of conflict. While taking refuge may provide better security, it’s often counterbalanced by diminished economic opportunities. Lower capital accumulation for Syrian refugees takes on an intergenerational form, negatively affecting the future of Syrian children and adolescents.

While conditions on the ground in Syria are not conducive to large-scale returns at the moment, the report argues that better security and service access in Syria will have a consistent, positive effect on the number of returns. The World Bank study sheds light on the “mobility calculus” of Syrian refugees. A potential cessation of hostilities within Syria is conducive for the return of displaced Syrians, however a range of other factors - including improved security and socioeconomic conditions in origin states, access to property and assets, the availability of key services, and restitution in home areas play important roles in shaping the scale and composition of returns.

More specifically, the study examines the role played by four categories of structural factors (Peace, security and protection; Livelihoods and economic opportunities; Housing, land and property; and Infrastructure and access to services). The study finds that security is the most important factor impacting the prevalence of refugee returns, as Syrians are worried about persecution and lawlessness.

Overall, the economic and social context analysis shows that most refugees face a tradeoff between security and other aspects of quality of life. Simulations carried out by the authors of the study confirm the importance of security and service provision for mobility, and also show that service restoration is more effective in mobilizing refugees when security is less of an issue.