Durable Solutions for Syrian Refugees, March/April 2019

The March / April 2019 update on durable solutions for Syrian refugees focuses on:

i) Refugee Intentions Survey; ii) Civil documentation and Registration booklet; iii) Resettlement

Refugee Intentions Survey

In an effort to continue monitoring refugees’ intentions and aspirations vis-A�-vis return and in turn inform interagency operational planning, between November 2018 and January 2019, UNHCR conducted its fifth Refugee Perception and Intention Survey (RPIS) in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. Due to the operational context, Turkey did not take part in this RPIS exercise. In line with the results from the previous surveys, the findings show that voluntary repatriation in safety and with dignity remains the preferred durable solution for Syrian refugees, with the majority continuing to express their hope to return one day. Survey results indicate that as a regional average, 75 per cent of Syrian refugees in the four countries where the survey was conducted are hopeful to return to Syria one day. However, only a minority, 5.9 per cent, intend to return in the next 12 months.

It is noteworthy that while the findings of the RPIS report represent an aggregation of regional findings, individual countries may have specific variations. For instance, those hoping to return to Syria one day reaches as high as 86 per cent in Lebanon and those planning to return within the next 12 months was only 2.1 per cent in Iraq.

Further, when asked about the key drivers influencing their decision-making on return, respondents mentioned security, access to basic services and shelter, military exemptions, and the need for job opportunities. These were essentially the top factors among all refugees surveyed regardless of their current return intentions. Importantly, these factors also indicate the areas where obstacles will need to be removed in order for refugees’ intentions to change.

Also, 51 per cent of those undecided about their return plans reported that go-and-see visits are an important element in order to make a final decision.

Finally, a number of refugees reported not having sufficient information on their area of origin, including in relation to security, military exemptions and access to services and property, before returning. Therefore, ensuring safe, unhindered and regular humanitarian access inside Syria will not only enable provision of assistance, but is also essential in order to present reliable, objective and timely information to refugees so they can make informed decisions on their future. While the number of those who are undecided about return is decreasing, the percentage of Syrian refugees with no hope to return remains relatively steady. Therefore, it is crucial to maintain a comprehensive protection and solutions strategy. Such a strategy seeks to:

1) support host country resilience; 2) enable refugee self-reliance; 3) expand access to resettlement and other safe pathways to a third country, and; 4) plan for and support voluntary, safe, and dignified return of refugees to Syria.

Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees