Update: Durable Solutions for Syrian Refugees

REPORT from UN High Commissioner for Refugees Published on 08 Oct 2017

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The key durable solutions for refugees from Syria are resettlement and complementary pathways of admission to a third country1, voluntary return to Syria in safety and dignity, and protection and assistance in countries of asylum. UNHCR is pursuing policy, programmatic and strategic directions across the region to facilitate access to durable solutions while maintaining protection space in host countries.

In this regard, UNHCR is publishing a range of updates and reports on durable solutions opportunities. This update provides statistical data on Syrian refugees in the region. The demographic analysis uses UNHCR refugee registration data from Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.


Syria is the biggest humanitarian and refugee crisis in the world today. In 2011, before the start of the crisis, the population in Syria was estimated at 20.5 million2. The conflict is in its seventh year, with 6.15 million people internally displaced and a total of 13.5 million people in Syria in need of humanitarian assistance.

As of September, there are 5.2 million Syria refugees hosted in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. Lebanon and Jordan host the largest number of registered Syrian refugees relative to their respective populations. In Lebanon, one in five people is a refugee, and in Jordan one in 15 is a refugee. Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees in the world.

Date of Arrival, place of origin and ethnicity

UNHCR does not promote or facilitate refugee returns to Syria because conditions for safe and dignified returns are not in place. Nevertheless, from the time of flight from Syria to a country of asylum, UNHCR strives to find durable solutions to international displacement. To make informed decisions for their future, information on places of origin is crucial for refugees. That information is also important for humanitarian organizations to prepare for durable solutions, which can include return to Syria. Data on places of origin can also help with the rebuilding of national civil registries in the event of return when it can be made available to local and central authorities in the country of origin.

UNHCR registration data from 2011 to June 2017 shows that 52 per cent of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt were registered during 2013, and UNHCR registered 86 per cent of the refugees between 2012 and 2014. These figures highlight both the high point of refugee influx across the region and the impact of managed borders across the immediate region since then. Refugees continue to need access to safety and international protection, as well as ongoing humanitarian support in countries of asylum.

Syrian refugees registered by UNHCR originate from all 14 governorates of Syria. The majority are from Homs, Aleppo, which was the most populous Governorate in Syria and the scene of a major military confrontation between 2012 and 2016, and Dara’a.

Due to geographic proximity, the largest governorate of origin for Syrian refugees in Lebanon is Homs (23 per cent), followed by Aleppo (21 per cent are from Aleppo). In Jordan, 42 per cent of the Syrians are from Dar’a and 16 per cent are from Homs. In Iraq, most refugees come from Al-Hassakeh (58 per cent) and Aleppo (25 per cent). In Egypt, the majority of the Syrians are from Damascus (32 per cent) and Rural Damascus (30 per cent).

Among the UNHCR-registered Syrian refugees in the region, 86 per cent are Arabs, 13 per cent are Kurds (primarily in Iraq) and the rest are of other ethnic groups such as Assyrian, Armenian, Circassian, Chaldean and Turkman.