Most young Syrian refugees believe they won’t return to homeland

Most young Syrian refugees believe it is unlikely that they will ever return to their homeland, but say that ending the war is the single most important factor influencing their return.

The finding was part of the ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2017 which conducted 400 interviews with Syrian refugees aged 18 to 24 living in camps and settlements in Jordan and Lebanon.

The survey also revealed that young Syrian refugees are divided over the roles of Russia and Iran in the conflict in their homeland.

Six years of war in Syria have left hundreds of thousands dead. Half of the population – over 11 million people – have been displaced by the fighting, and of those, more than 5 million have been forced to flee their country altogether and seek refuge in other nations. Most find themselves in refugee camps and settlements in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and Turkey.

Asked “How likely are you to permanently return to Syria in the future?” 54 per cent said “unlikely’,” 42 per cent said “likely” and 4 per cent said they did not know.

Nearly half of the young Syrians surveyed said that ending the civil war was the single most important prerequisite to them returning home.

Asked “Which of the following, if any, is the most important thing that needs to happen for you to be able to return to Syria?” two answers dominated the responses: 47 per cent said “the war ends,” while 25 per cent said “Daesh leaves Syria.” Trailing far behind were “the economic situation improves,” chosen by 8 per cent of the respondents, and “Bashar Al Assad leaves,” chosen by 7 per cent.

Most young refugees do not consider President Assad leaving office as a prerequisite for reaching a peace agreement. Just over a quarter (27 per cent) agreed with the statement “There can be no peace agreement as long as Bashar Al Assad stays in office” against 71 per cent who agreed that “ending the fighting is more important than Bashar Al Assad leaving of office,” with 2 per cent saying they did not know.

Many of those surveyed do not believe that military action alone will resolve the conflict in Syria. Asked: “Which of the following do you think is the best way to resolve the ongoing conflict in Syria?” 43 per cent said a combination of political and military solutions; 27 per cent said a military solution; and 26 per cent said a political solution, with 4 per cent saying they did not know.

For young Syrians who are seeking to migrate to another country, North America is the preferred destination. Asked: “Which country in the world, other than Syria would you like to live in?” 27 per cent said Canada; 23 per cent said the United States; the United Arab Emirates and Germany were chosen by 22 per cent each; France was the choice for 14 per cent; with the UK chosen by 13 per cent.

Young Syrian refugees are divided on whether Russia’s impact on the conflict is a positive or negative thing.

Asked: “Do you think Russia helping Bashar Al Assad had a very positive, somewhat positive, somewhat negative, or very negative impact on the Syrian conflict?” 49 per cent of all Syrian refugees said positive, while 46 per cent said negative, and the rest did not know.

Asked “Do you think Iran helping Bashar Al Assad had a very positive, somewhat positive, somewhat negative, or very negative impact on the Syrian con ict?” the split was almost
identical with 49 per cent of all Syrian refugees saying it was positive, while 48 per cent said it was negative, and the rest did not know.

The majority (66 per cent) of young Syrian refugees surveyed said they don’t believe Donald Trump’s presidency will change the course of the conflict with one in four (23 per cent) expecting it to get worse.

Asked whether Daesh had become stronger or weaker over the past year, 77 per cent of young Syrian refugees believed the group had become weaker, while 19 per cent believed it was growing stronger.

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