Syrian refugee onward migration from Jordan to Europe

14th December 2016
Author: Huma Haider

There has been a massive influx of Syrian refugees into Jordan since the Syrian conflict began: the official figure is over 650,000 but the actual number is likely to be much higher (ACAPS, 2016: 1). Only 21.5 per cent of registered Syrian refugees are living in camps; 78.5 per cent are in urban areas, distributed as follows: Amman (26.4 per cent), Mafraq (23.9 per cent), Irbid (20.7 per cent) and Zarqa (16.7 per cent) (ACAPS, 2016: 2). Life in Jordan has become increasingly difficult for Syrian refugees in urban host communities: savings and opportunities for subsistence have disappeared, alongside reductions in assistance (DRC, 2016; Francis, 2015). Difficult conditions in Jordan, the prevailing sense of the protracted 2 nature of the conflict in Syria, and the belief in greater opportunities and better treatment in Europe are causing many Syrians to consider the onward journey to Europe (DRC, 2016; Hartberg, 2016; Lenner and Schmelter, 2016; Dunmore, 2015). In Jordan, 50 per cent of Syrian refugees surveyed by the Norwegian Refugee Council at the end of 2015 said that they were intending to leave because they saw no future, in large part due to inability to obtain legal work and insufficient assistance (Hartberg, 2016, p. 5). Despite the dangerous journey and new restrictive EU member state policies, 20 per cent of Syrian refugees who aimed to leave said they would try to make it to Europe (Ibid). Within the population of Syrians on the move, there are distinct groups and categories (e.g. Christian Syrians, Syrian women, Syrian children, Palestinian refugees from Syria, former combatants), with varying experiences, motivations and concerns regarding onward movement to Europe. There may also be differences among Syrians from different regions of Syria (DRC, 2016). This helpdesk report discusses the main drivers of Syrian refugee onward movement from Jordan to Europe.

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Suggested Citation

Haider, H. (2016). Syrian refugee onward migration from Jordan to Europe. K4D Helpdesk Research Report. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.


14th December 2016


Continent: Asia, Europe

Country: Jordan, Syria