Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies (CHRHS)

Syrian Refugees

Civil war and violence against citizens in Syria have left an estimated 12 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Facing the targeted destruction of hospitals, schools, utilities and water systems, for many vulnerable communities, living in Syria is no longer an option. An estimated 6.2 million people in Syria are internally displaced, while an additional 6.7 million are international refugees. The vast majority of Syrian refugees are currently living in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, though many have also fled to Greece in hopes of seeking asylum in Europe. Recently, however, the European Union adopted border restrictions that have prevented people seeking sanctuary from entering Europe. As a result, the 50,000-plus refugees in Greece can no longer legally travel to other nations in Europe, leaving Greece to shoulder much of the responsibility for the lives of those in search of safety.

Understanding the evolving health needs of Syrian refugees and the challenges involved in delivering their healthcare is a crucial aspect of ensuring smooth integration as they look towards re-building lives of dignity in their new home. Key health challenges to service delivery in Greece included insufficient referral mechanisms for social support and mental health services, language and gender differences between refugees and healthcare providers, and greater service need for gender-based violence victims. As with all support services, it is important that solutions and interventions be coordinated with local and national efforts, emphasizing the important role of host communities.

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