On the 3 November 2022 the UCL-Migration Research Unit at the Department of Geography published a major report on ‘Development Approaches to Forced Displacement from Syria in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.’ The report, led by Prof. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, presents the findings of a state-of-the-art literature review of over 260 sources published between 2016–2021, synthesising existing knowledge on 3 factors that are important for refugees from Syria based in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

Access the Full Report below:

Access the Summary Report below:

A set of 3 Policy Briefs has also been published to disseminate policy-relevant findings and recommendations arising in the full report (available here), including two thematically focused Briefs on Onward Migration (available here) and on Social Cohesion (available here).

The report was commissioned by the Policy and Operations Evaluation department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands (IOB) and is organized into 3 parts:

Part I of the report sets out the evidence relating to onwards migration. Literature relating to the difference between aspirations and capabilities to facilitate onward migration is examined and policy implications are outlined. The literature stresses that aspirations and the capability to act varies according to the characteristics of specific individuals and groups (e.g. gender, age, class, family composition, religion, ethnicity). In turn, literature on drivers of onward migration indicates context-specific factors and highlights why particular groups of people may seek onward migration from a given host country, while the majority of refugees remain in their country of first asylum. The influence of foreign assistance on migration decisions is also assessed. This evidence suggests that coordinated foreign assistance that addresses livelihoods, rights and protections have the potential to enable refugees to build sustainable lives in host countries. However, further research is necessary to fully understand the impact of foreign assistance on onward migration.

Part II synthesises the literature on approaches adopted to enhance social cohesion between refugees and members of host communities in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. Promoting social cohesion is of increasing interest to diverse stakeholders, including policy-makers, donors, and humanitarian and development agencies. However, in spite of its popularity amongst policy-makers and practitioners, social cohesion is a contested concept which remains largely undefined and is difficult to measure. Social cohesion literature, policies and programmes have overwhelmingly focused on documenting host perceptions of refugees and host assumptions relating to the ‘impact’ of refugees on hosts. However, the assumption that the presence of refugees leads to negative impacts on members of host communities is not consistent with the evidence. Evidence is synthesized relating to key legal, policy and social factors which support or prevent refugees’ local participation. Part II also summarizes multiscalar factors which variously undermine or potentially enhance the nature and quality of refugee-host interactions and different forms of local participation, noting that these are influenced by ongoing and new forms of discrimination, violence and exclusion.

Part III assesses the evidence relating to refugees’ participation in local economies, and how refugees’ presence is related to changes in national, municipal, and local level economies. While it is often assumed – by donors, policy-makers, practitioners and host community members alike – that the arrival of refugees has a negative impact on local and national economies, the evidence highlights that these assumptions are often empirically unfounded, and that greater attention must be paid to long-standing structural dynamics and the broader impacts of conflicts and humanitarian responses to displacement. This part of the report examines the evidence relating to refugees’ access to formal and informal modes of employment (as entrepreneurs and employees alike), and the diverse factors which may promote or impede safe and dignified modes of economic participation. Noting the challenge of causally linking ‘the arrival and presence of refugees’ to changes in national-, municipal- and city/town-level economies, growth and employment, the final part of the report synthesises evidence on the nature and impacts of policies and programmes developed and implemented since 2016 in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, including a discussion of how changes in labour laws, processes to obtain and renew residency and work permits, the establishment of special economic zones, financial crises and the impact of COVID-19, relate to refugees’ economic participation in local communities.

Featured image: (c) E. Fiddian-Qasmiyeh

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