Internal displacement and the Syrian crisis: An analysis of trends from 2011-2014

Shannon Doocy, Emily Lyles, Tefera D. Delbiso, Courtland W. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Since the start of the Syrian crisis in 2011, civil unrest and armed conflict in the country have resulted in a rapidly increasing number of people displaced both within and outside of Syria. Those displaced face immense challenges in meeting their basic needs. This study sought to characterize internal displacement in Syria, including trends in both time and place, and to provide insights on the association between displacement and selected measures of household well-being and humanitarian needs. Methods: This study presents findings from two complementary methods: a desk review of displaced population estimates and movements and a needs assessment of 3930 Syrian households affected by the crisis. The first method, a desk review of displaced population estimates and movements, provides a retrospective analysis of national trends in displacement from March 2011 through June 2014. The second method, analysis of findings from a 2014 needs assessment by displacement status, provides insight into the displaced population and the association between displacement and humanitarian needs. Results: Findings indicate that while displacement often corresponds to conflict levels, such trends were not uniformly observed in governorate-level analysis. Governorate level IDP estimates do not provide information on a scale detailed enough to adequately plan humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, such estimates are often influenced by obstructed access to certain areas, unsubstantiated reports, and substantial discrepancies in reporting. Secondary displacement is not consistently reported across sources nor are additional details about displacement, including whether displaced individuals originated within the current governorate or outside of the governorate. More than half (56.4 %) of households reported being displaced more than once, with a majority displaced for more than one year (73.3 %). Some differences between displaced and non-displaced population were observed in residence crowding, food consumption, health access, and education. Conclusions: Differences in reported living conditions and key health, nutrition, and education indicators between displaced and non-displaced populations indicate a need to better understand migration trends in order to inform planning and provision of live saving humanitarian assistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number33
JournalConflict and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Conflict
  • Health
  • Internal displacement
  • Syria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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