The Syrian War and Refugee Exodus

More than eight years of violence in Syria has left more than 500,000 killed or disappeared, forced over half the population of 22 million from their homes, and registered material destruction in the hundreds of billions of dollars. This seminar will explore the origins and evolution of this conflict and humanitarian catastrophe. After briefly examining the context of the authoritarian regime that has ruled since 1970, we will discuss the launch of a popular uprising in 2011, trace its escalation into a multi-sided war, and assess circumstances in the country today. We will then dive into one of the most significant outcomes of the war: mass forced migration. Syrians constitute the single largest national group among the world’s record 68 million people currently displaced. We will examine to where Syrian refugees have fled, the varied circumstances shaping their lives in these different settings, and the challenges that mass displacement poses for host countries, for the homeland left behind, and for refugees themselves. Along the way, we will consider topics such as integration, return, and the effect of displacement upon children and families. Throughout the seminar, the instructor will share voices and experiences from among the more than 400 displaced Syrians who she has interviewed across the Middle East and Europe from 2012 to the present.