Strengthening Refugee and Host Communities: Livelihoods, Education, and Social Protections | Wilson Center
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Strengthening Refugee and Host Communities: Livelihoods, Education, and Social Protections

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Webcast Recap

As the Global Compact on Refugees notes, millions of refugees “live in protracted situations, often in low- and middle-income countries facing their own economic and development challenges.” According to UNHCR, almost 12.2 million Syrians in the Middle East either are refugees in neighboring host countries or internally displaced. Eight years into the Syrian conflict, the refugee crisis continues to put economic and political pressures on host communities and international actors. Facing the duration of their displacement, the international community is shifting its focus on durable solutions that improve Syrian livelihoods within the host community. This panel will highlight the current reality with a focus on those long-term solutions focused on education and inclusion in the workforce and society.

Image credit: Shutterstock 


Selected Quotes


Richard Albright

“No refugee arrives in his or her host community to be a burden ... Refugees speak about the desire to send their children to school so that they and their children could be more productive contributors to their communities.”

“Refugees with access to education and the legal right to work are better positioned to contribute to their local economies whether they integrate locally or eventually return voluntarily to Syria.”

Professor Sahar Aziz 

“[Refugees] don’t want just checks every week, they want to work. They want to be economically independent.”

Amy Austin Holmes

“It’s estimated 5million people that live in the NE, about 1million of them are school aged children … The schools that have restarted now,, the student teacher ratio was approximately 70%.”

Jana Mason

Syria leads all the stats in terms of forced displacement. In terms of forced displacement. In terms of internally displaced, Syria is 2nd only to Columbia … In terms of refugees, Syria remains the largest producer of refugees, roughly 6.7 million, so roughly a quarter of the world’s refugees come from Syria. So if you add the internally displaced & refugees together, you have about 13 million.”

"The media, for understandable reasons, would often have us believe that most refugees are crossing oceans or deserts, as in the case of the Americas to reach the Western world. The reality as with Syrians is that most refugees cross one border and stay there. For years or decades. For the 6.79 [million] Syrian refugees, over 5.7 million are in the neighboring host countries that we've mentioned [Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey]."




  • Richard Albright

    Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, Department of State
  • Professor Sahar Aziz

    Professor of Law and Chancellor's Social Justice Scholar. Director, Center for Security, Race and Rights. Rutgers University Law School
  • Amy Austin Holmes

    Associate Professor of Sociology, American University in Cairo and 2019 Visiting Professor at the Middle East Initiative of Harvard University
  • Jana Mason

    Senior Advisor for External Relations and Government Affairs, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees