Durable Solutions for Syrian Refugees: Safe, Voluntary Returns and Beyond

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  • English


  • Migration and Forced Displacement

Since 2011, over 12 million Syrians have been forcibly displaced, constituting “the largest displacement crisis in the world” according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). While close to 7 million Syrians are internally displaced, just over 5 million left their country and became refugees. The vast majority escaped to the neighbouring countries of Türkiye, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. While some refugees went on to claim asylum in EU countries or were resettled in more distant countries, like the United States and Canada, more than 4 million Syrians remain in Lebanon and Türkiye without a durable solution. Resettlement to third countries has declined, and local integration has not been a policy priority for either Türkiye or Lebanon. In fact, barriers that prevent local integration have been implemented. Domestic pressures in both those countries, including economic decline and an array of political, natural and health crises are feeding growing hostile public attitudes towards refugees. As a result, both Lebanon and Türkiye have chosen repatriation to Syria as their preferred solution despite the evidence that the conditions in Syria do not exist to provide safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable returns.

Impediments for safety, dignity and sustainability of returns include:

  • absence of a political solution to the Syrian situation – the regime that caused the displacement is still in power
  • decade-long human rights violations
  • continued concerns about lack of security 
  • serious problems in the provision of health and education services
  • limited livelihood and employment options
  • severe financial problems including hyperinflation, and impeded flow of goods and capital.

Despite the impediments, some Syrians have returned to Syria. This raises the question as to how voluntary, safe and sustainable these repatriations actually are for Syrian refugees. This brief provides a description of the durable solutions available to refugees, including voluntary repatriation, local integration, resettlement to third countries and complementary pathways, along with an analysis of, and recommendations for, their application to the Syrian refugee situation.


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Cite as

@techreport{Sahin-Mencutek2024, author = "Zeynep Şahin-Mencütek", title = "Durable Solutions for Syrian Refugees: Safe, Voluntary Returns and Beyond", latexTitle = "Durable Solutions for Syrian Refugees: Safe, Voluntary Returns and Beyond", publisher = "Toronto Metropolitan University", institution = "Toronto Metropolitan University", type = "Report", year = "2024", address = "Toronto", }




Toronto Metropolitan University