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A refugee is a person who has crossed an internationally recognized border because of conflict or
persecution. Protection of refugees is guaranteed under the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol.

The 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees describes a refugee as any
person who, "owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion,
nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of
his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection
of that country".

The 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Optional Protocol

 Requires signatories to recognize those fleeing persecution as refugees

 Signatories must undertake measures to naturalise and assimilate refugees

 Signatories must provide refugees with basic services such as sustenance, shelter, and medicine

 In the provision of other services and rights (such as education) refugees must receive at least as
favourable treatment as foreign nationals

 Signatories must make a particular effort to help refugees participate in the workforce


-March 2011 when Syrian protesters in the Southern City of Deera took to the streets to protest the arrest
and torture of children who had painted anti-government graffiti in public spaces. By June
2011 over 500 people had been killed and thousands of Syrian residents had fled into Turkey, marking the
beginning of large-scale refugee movements.

What countries have taken in Syrian refugees, and which country has the most?
According to Amnesty International, Syrian refugees have sought shelter in five
countries throughout the Middle East,
including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan , Iraq and Egypt.

The Syrian Crisis is an ongoing civil war in Syria which began in the spring of
2011 (The Arab Spring) with widespread protests against then president Bashar
Al-Assad, calling for the release of political prisoners. The protests were initially
peaceful. However the protesters were subjected to violent crackdowns made
by government forces which included the National Security Force. Turning a
deaf ear to the dissenter’s demands, they were subjected to detention, torture
and blatant violation of human rights. The violent crackdowns led to the quick
escalation of protests, and in no time the rebels starting fighting back against
the administration. The dissenters loosely organized themselves into various
factions like Syrian National Council (exiled Syrians) , Free Syrian Army (Syrian
military defectors), Islamic Front etcetera. Months of in-fighting and bloody
conflicts have turned the protests into a full grown homicidal war. More than
four years after it began, the civil war has killed over 220,000 people. According
to the U.N, more than 7.8 million people have been internally displaced.
Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey are hosting a majority of the refugees. While
pressure mounts on these countries to sustain the influx of displaced people,
thousands of Syrians are undertaking the perilous journey across the
Mediterranean Sea to Europe in hope of a better life and future.

2011 — The Syrian civil war begins.

 Peaceful protests in southern cities in March are met with violent
crackdowns by Syrian security forces. Hopes of Arab Spring reforms are
dashed by armed repression. Opposition groups organize but can’t
seem to unite.
 International sanctions and other attempts to pressure the government
to moderate are futile; its actions are met with defiance.

2012 — Syrians flee bombing and repression.

 Lebanon becomes a major destination for Syrian refugees. Many hope
they’ll return home soon.
 Za’atari refugee camp opens in Jordan near the Syrian border. Though
designed as a temporary settlement, it became home to tens of
thousands of Syrian refugees who have stayed for years.
 August: Syria has committed war crimes, acts that violate accepted
international agreements and may even involve actions against civilians,
according to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

2013 — Conflict increases as other countries join the

 March: Syrian refugees total 1 million.
 April: Chemical attacks are confirmed. President Assad is accused of
the attacks.
 September: Syrian refugees total 2 million.

2014 — Humanitarian needs increase, but access to

people in need becomes more difficult for aid groups.
 April: Azraq camp opens in Jordan; 1 million refugees are now in
Lebanon, estimated to be one-quarter of the country’s population. The
large number of refugees puts a severe strain on the nation’s social
 June: ISIL declares a caliphate in Syria and Iraq’s occupied territory.
Syrian refugees number 3 million in countries neighboring Syria;
100,000 people have reached Europe.

2015 — Europe feels the pressure of Syrian refugees

and migrants.
 Hungary erects a border wall, then closes the border with Serbia to stop
refugees from entering Europe.
 The World Food Program cuts rations to refugees in Lebanon and
Jordan due to a funding shortfall.
 September: The photo of 2-year-old Alan Kurdi (initially reported as
Aylan Kurdi) shocks the world. “That could have been me,” Dr. Vinh
Chung told CNN’s Carol Costello of Alan Kurdi. “The body of the lifeless
toddler, face down, washed up on the beach is really chilling to me
— because that could have been me.”
 Thousands of refugees arrive daily in Greece; 1 million refugees reach
Europe during 2015.

2016 — Syria is devastated by years of war.

 February: U.S. and Russian delegates negotiate a temporary cessation
of hostilities, sanctioned by the U.N., to send aid to hard-to-reach
populations in Syria.
 June: Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees are trapped in no man’s
land when Jordan closes the border after a car bombing; about 40,000
people remain there in 2019.
 December: Civilians are caught in the crossfire as the Syrian
government retakes Aleppo from rebels. A ceasefire to free them fails.

2017 — Syrians seek safety, stability.

 March: More than 5 million people have fled conflict in Syria.
 April: 58 people are killed in a suspected nerve gas attack.
 July: A ceasefire is brokered at the G20 meeting for southwest Syria.
Clashes are ongoing in Daraa, ar Raqqa, Homs, and Hama provinces
and Deir ez-Zor city. More than 900,000 Syrians have been displaced
this year.

2018 — Humanitarian aid is limited as the conflict

 Fighting continues, despite international agreements for de-escalation.
 Humanitarian access is limited because of insecurity, and 2.9 million
people remain in hard-to-reach areas where aid is not supplied on a
regular basis.

2019 — Refugees experience new hardships.

 January to February: Winter storms batter Syria, Lebanon, Turkey,
and Jordan with snow, rain, heavy winds, and near-freezing
temperatures. Rising floods drive many refugees from tent settlements,
especially in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.
 March 15: Syria enters the ninth year of the Syrian civil war.

Bashar al-Assad has ruled Syria as president since July 2000. His father, Hafez al-Assad, ruled
Syria from 1970-2000.
The ongoing violence against civilians has been condemned by the Arab League, the European
Union, the United States and other countries.
As of March 2019, roughly 5.7 million Syrians have fled the country, according to the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees, and more than 6.1 million people are displaced internally.
When the civil war began in 2011, there were four main factions of fighting groups throughout
the country: Kurdish forces, ISIS, other opposition (such as Jaish al Fateh, an alliance between
the Nusra Front and Ahrar-al-Sham) and the Assad regime. But as ISIS loses control of most of
its territory, combatants are now freer to attack each other.
March 2011 - Violence flares in Daraa after a group of teens and children are arrested for
writing political graffiti. Dozens of people are killed when security forces crack down on
March 24, 2011 - In response to continuing protests, the Syrian government announces
several plans to appease citizens. State employees will receive an immediate salary
increase. The government also plans to study lifting Syria's long standing emergency law
and the licensing of new political parties.
March 30, 2011 - Assad addresses the nation in a 45-minute televised speech. He
acknowledges that the government has not met the people's needs, but he does not offer
any concrete changes. The state of emergency remains in effect.
April 21, 2011 - Assad lifts the country's 48-year-old state of emergency. He also abolishes
the Higher State Security Court and issues a decree "regulating the right to peaceful
protest, as one of the basic human rights guaranteed by the Syrian Constitution."
May 18, 2011 - The United States imposes sanctions against Assad and six other senior
Syrian officials. The Treasury Department details the sanctions by saying, "As a result of
this action, any property in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons
in which the individuals listed in the Annex have an interest is blocked, and US persons are
generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them."
August 18, 2011 - The United States imposes new economic sanctions on Syria, freezing
Syrian government assets in the US, barring Americans from making new investments in
the country and prohibiting any US transactions relating to Syrian petroleum products,
among other things.
September 2, 2011 - The European Union bans the import of Syrian oil.
September 23, 2011 - The EU imposes additional sanctions against Syria, due to "the
continuing brutal campaign" by the government against its own people.
October 2, 2011 - A new alignment of Syrian opposition groups establishes the Syrian
National Council, a framework through which to end Assad's government and establish a
democratic system.
October 4, 2011 - Russia and China veto a UN Security Council resolution that would call
for an immediate halt to the crackdown in Syria against opponents of Assad. Nine of the 15-
member council countries, including the United States, voted in favor of adopting the
November 12, 2011 - The Arab League suspends Syria's membership, effective November
16, 2011.
November 27, 2011 - Foreign ministers from 19 Arab League countries vote to impose
economic sanctions against the Syrian regime for its part in a bloody crackdown on civilian
November 30, 2011 - Turkey announces a series of measures, including financial
sanctions, against Syria.
December 19, 2011 - Syria signs an Arab League proposal aimed at ending violence
between government forces and protesters.
January 28, 2012 - The Arab League suspends its mission in Syria as violence there
February 2, 2012 - A UN Security Council meeting ends with no agreement on a draft
resolution intended to pressure Syria to end its crackdown on anti-government
February 4, 2012 - A UN Security Council resolution condemning Syria is not adopted after
Russia and China vote against it.
February 6, 2012 - The United States closes its embassy in Damascus and recalls its
February 7, 2012 - The Gulf Cooperation Council announces its member states are pulling
their ambassadors from Damascus and expelling the Syrian ambassadors in their countries.
February 16, 2012 - The United Nations General Assembly passes a nonbinding resolution
endorsing the Arab League plan for Assad to step down. The vote was 137 in favor and 12
against, with 17 abstentions.
February 26, 2012 - Syrians vote on a constitutional referendum in polling centers across
the country. Almost 90% of voters approve the changes to the constitution, which include
the possibility of a multi-party system.
March 13, 2012 - Kofi Annan, the UN special envoy to Syria, meets in Turkey with
government officials and Syrian opposition members. In a visit to Syria over the weekend,
he calls for a ceasefire, the release of detainees and allowing unfettered access to relief
agencies to deliver much-needed aid.
March 15, 2012 - The Gulf Cooperation Council announces that the six member countries
will close their Syrian embassies and calls on the international community "to stop what is
going on in Syria."
March 27, 2012 - The Syrian government accepts Annan's plan to end violence. The
proposal seeks to stop the violence, give access to humanitarian agencies, release
detainees and start a political dialogue to address the concerns of the Syrian people.
April 1, 2012 - At a conference in Istanbul, the international group Friends of the Syrian
People formally recognizes the Syrian National Council as a legitimate representative of the
Syrian people.
July 30, 2012 - The Syrian Charge d'Affaires in London, Khaled al-Ayoubi, resigns, stating
he is "no longer willing to represent a regime that has committed such violent and
oppressive acts against its own people."
August 2, 2012 - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announces that Annan will not renew
his mandate when it expires at the end of August.
August 6, 2012 - Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab's resignation from office and defection
from Assad's regime is read on Al Jazeera by his spokesman Muhammad el-Etri. Hijab and
his family are said to have left Syria overnight, arriving in Jordan. Hijab is the highest-profile
official to defect.
August 9, 2012 - Syrian television reports that Assad has appointed Health Minister Wael
al-Halki as the new prime minister.
October 3, 2012 - Five people are killed by Syrian shelling in the Turkish border town of
Akcakale. In response, Turkey fires on Syrian targets and its parliament authorizes a
resolution giving the government permission to deploy its soldiers to foreign countries.
November 11, 2012 - Israel fires warning shots toward Syria after a mortar shell hits an
Israeli military post. It is the first time Israel has fired on Syria across the Golan Heights
since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
November 11, 2012 - Syrian opposition factions formally agree to unite as the National
Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.
November 13, 2012 - Sheikh Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib is elected leader of the Syrian
opposition collective, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.
January 6, 2013 - Assad announces he will not step down and that his vision of Syria's
future includes a new constitution and an end to support for the opposition. The opposition
refuses to work with Assad's government.
March 19, 2013 - The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces
elects Ghassan Hitto as its prime minister. Though born in Damascus, Hitto has spent much
of his life in the United States, and holds dual US and Syrian citizenship.
April 25, 2013 - US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announces the United States has
evidence that the chemical weapon sarin has been used in Syria on a small scale.
May 27, 2013 - EU nations end the arms embargo against the Syrian rebels.
May 27, 2013 - US Senator John McCain visits rebels in Syria. It is reported that he is the
highest ranking US official to visit since the beginning of the war.
June 13, 2013 - US President Barack Obama says that Syria has crossed a "red line" with
its use of chemical weapons against rebels. His administration indicates that it will be
stepping up its support of the rebels, who have been calling for the United States and others
to provide arms needed to battle Assad's forces.
July 6, 2013 - Ahmad Assi Jarba is elected the new leader of the Syrian National Coalition.
August 18, 2013 - A team of UN weapons inspectors arrives in Syria to begin an
investigation into whether chemical weapons have been used during the civil war.
August 22, 2013 - The United Nations and the United States call for an immediate
investigationof Syrian activists' claims that the Assad government used chemical weapons
in an attack on civilians on August 21. Anti-regime activist groups in Syria say more than
1,300 people were killed in the attack outside Damascus, many of them women and
August 24, 2013 - Medical charity Doctors Without Borders announces that three hospitals
near Damascus treated more than 3,000 patients suffering "neurotoxic symptoms" on
August 21. Reportedly, 355 of the patients died.
August 26, 2013 - UN inspectors reach the site of a reported chemical attack in
Moadamiyet al-Sham, near Damascus. En route to the site, the team's convoy is hit by
sniper fire. No one is injured.
August 29, 2013 - The UK's Parliament votes against any military action in Syria.
August 30, 2013 - US Secretary of State John Kerry says that US intelligence information
has found that 1,429 people were killed in last week's chemical weapons attack in Syria,
including at least 426 children.
September 9, 2013 - Syria agrees to a Russian proposal to give up control of its chemical
September 10, 2013 - In a speech, Obama says he will not "put American boots on the
ground in Syria," but does not rule out other military options.
September 14, 2013 - The United States and Russia agree to a plan to eliminate chemical
weapons in Syria.
September 16, 2013 - The United Nations releases a report from chemical weapons
inspectors who investigated the August 21 incident. Inspectors say there is "clear and
convincing evidence" that sarin was used.
September 20, 2013 - Syria releases an initial report on its chemical weapons program.
September 27, 2013 - The UN Security Council passes a resolution requiring Syria to
eliminate its arsenal of chemical weapons. Assad says he will abide by the resolution.
September 30, 2013 - At the UN General Assembly in New York, Syrian Foreign Minister
Walid al-Moualem says that Syria is not engaged in a civil war, but a war on terror.
October 6, 2013 - Syria begins dismantling its chemical weapons program, including the
destruction of missile warheads and aerial bombs.
October 31, 2013 - The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announces
that Syria has destroyed all its declared chemical weapons production facilities.
November 25, 2013 - The United Nations announces that starting January 22 in Geneva,
Switzerland, the Syrian government and an unknown number of opposition groups will meet
at a "Geneva II" conference meant to broker an end to the Syrian civil war.
December 2, 2013 - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay says that a UN
fact-finding team has found "massive evidence" that the highest levels of the Syrian
government are responsible for war crimes.
January 20, 2014 - The Syria National Coalition announces it won't participate in the
Geneva II talks unless the United Nations rescinds its surprise invitation to Iran or Iran
agrees to certain conditions. The United Nations later rescinds Iran's invitation.
February 13, 2014 - The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons tells CNN
that Syria has shipped out 11% of its chemical weapons stockpile, falling far short of the
February 5 deadline to have all such arms removed from the country.
February 15, 2014 - A second round of peace talks ends in Geneva, Switzerland, with little
progress in ending Syria's civil war.
February 23, 2014 - The UN Security Council unanimously passes a resolution boosting
access to humanitarian aid in Syria.
June 3, 2014 - Assad is re-elected, reportedly receiving 88.7% of the vote in the country's
first election since civil war broke out in 2011.
September 22-23, 2014 - The United States and allies launch airstrikes against ISIS
targets in Syria, focusing on the city of Raqqa.
September 14-15, 2015 - A Pentagon spokesperson says the Russian military appears to
be attempting to set up a forward operating base in western Syria, in the area around the
port city of Latakia. Russian President Vladimir Putin says that Russia is supporting the
Syrian government in its fight against ISIS.
October 30, 2015 - US White House spokesman Josh Earnest says that the US will be
deploying "less than 50" Special Operations forces, who will be sent to Kurdish-controlled
territory in northern Syria. The American troops will help local Kurdish and Arab forces
fighting ISIS with logistics and are planning to bolster their efforts.
February 26, 2016 - A temporary cessation of hostilities goes into effect. The truce calls for
the Syrian regime and rebels to give relief organizations access to disputed territories so
they can assist civilians.
March 15, 2016 - Russia starts withdrawing its forces from Syria. A spokeswoman for
Assad tells CNN that the Russian campaign is winding down after achieving its goal of
helping Syrian troops take back territory claimed by terrorists.
September 15, 2016 - At least 23 people, including nine children, are killed during
airstrikes in Syria, with the United States and Russia accusing each other of violating the
ceasefire in effect since September 12.
September 17, 2016 - US-led coalition airstrikes near Deir Ezzor Airport intended to target
ISIS instead kill 62 Syrian soldiers.
September 20, 2016 - An aid convoy and warehouse of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are
bombed; no one claims responsibility. The strike prompts the UN to halt aid operations in
September 23-25, 2016 - About 200 airstrikes hit Aleppo during the weekend, with one
activist telling CNN it is a level of bombing they have not seen before.
December 13, 2016 - As government forces take control of most of Aleppo from rebel
groups, Turkey and Russia broker a ceasefire for eastern Aleppo so that civilians can be
evacuated. The UN Security Council holds an emergency session amid reports of mounting
civilian deaths and extrajudicial killings. The ceasefire collapses less than a day after it is
December 22, 2016 - Syria's state-run media announces government forces have taken full
control of Aleppo, ending more than four years of rebel rule there.
April 4, 2017 - Dozens of civilians are reportedly killed in a suspected chemical attack in the
rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. The Russian Defense Ministry claims that gas was
released when Syrian forces bombed a chemical munitions depot operated by
terrorists. Activists, however, say that Syrians carried out a targeted chemical attack.
April 6, 2017 - The United States launches a military strike on a Syrian government airbase
in response to the chemical weapon attack on civilians. On US President Donald Trump's
orders, US warships launch 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the airbase which was home to
the warplanes that carried out the chemical attacks.
July 7, 2017 - Trump and Putin reach an agreement on curbing violence in southwest Syria
during their meeting at the G20 in Hamburg, Germany. The ceasefire will take effect in the
de-escalation zone beginning at noon Damascus time on July 9.
October 17, 2017 - ISIS loses control of its self-declared capital, Raqqa. US-backed forces
fighting in Raqqa say "major military operations" have ended, though there are still pockets
of resistance in the city.
October 26, 2017 - A joint report from the United Nations and international chemical
weapons inspectors finds that the Assad regime was responsible for the April 2017 sarin
attack that killed more than 80 people. Syria has repeatedly denied it had anything to do
with the attack and also denies it has any chemical weapons.
February 24, 2018 - The UN Security Council unanimously approves a 30-day ceasefire
resolution in Syria, though it is unclear when the ceasefire is meant to start, or how it will be
February 27, 2018 - Within minutes of when a five-hour "humanitarian pause" ordered by
Putin -- from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. -- is meant to start, activists on the ground report shelling and
artillery fire from pro-regime positions, killing at least one person in the rebel-held enclave of
Eastern Ghouta.
March 6, 2018 - More than 1,000 children have been killed or injured this year across Syria,
UNICEF regional communications chief Juliette Touma tells CNN. In all, 342 children were
killed and 803 were injured in Syria in the first two months of 2018, Touma says, citing
multiple sources.
April 7, 2018 - Helicopters drop barrel bombs filled with toxic gas on the last rebel-held
town in Eastern Ghouta, activist groups say. The World Health Organization later says
that as many as 500 people may have been affected by the attack.
April 14, 2018 - The United States, France and the United Kingdom launch airstrikes on
Syria in response to the chemical weapons attack in Eastern Ghouta a week earlier.
July 27, 2018 - A UN envoy says the UN has verified 7,000 cases of children either killed or
maimed in Syria's seven-year war, but says unverified reports puts the number "way
beyond 20,000."
September 17, 2018 - Russia and Turkey announce they have agreed to create a
demilitarized zone in Syria's Idlib province, potentially thwarting a large-scale military
operation and impending humanitarian disaster in the country's last rebel stronghold. The
zone, which will be patrolled by Turkish and Russian military units, will become operational
from October 15.
December 19, 2018 - US President Trump tweets, "We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my
only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency." A US defense official and an
administration official tell CNN that planning for the "full" and "rapid" withdrawal of US
military from Syria is already underway.
March 23, 2019 - Kurdish forces announce they have captured the eastern Syrian pocket of
Baghouz, the last populated area under ISIS rule.


More than 5.6 million Syrians have been forced to flee their
country since 2011 and another 6.6 million have been driven
from their homes but remain trapped inside the country. The
vast majority of Syrian refugees have found safety in
neighboring countries – Turkey hosts more than 3 million.