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Five Myths About Syrian Refugees

Separating Fact From Fiction

A Syrian refugee and his daughter walk toward the Greek-Macedonian border, September 2015. Yannis Behrakis / Reuters

The Syrian refugee crisis is the worst human security disaster of the twenty-first century. Beyond the death toll, which stands at around 400,000, an estimated 11 million Syrians—about half the national population—have fled their homes since the beginning of the conflict in March 2011. Prior to the evacuation of eastern Aleppo in late 2016, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that over six million Syrians were displaced inside the country; about five million refugees have fled to nearby Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey; and nearly a million more have requested asylum in Europe, mostly in Germany. This crisis is not only a matter of life and death for millions of Syrians but is consequential to Syria’s immediate neighbors and to much of the rest of the world.

Yet a lack of direct evidence from the field has spawned speculation, misinformation, and poorly informed policymaking. In response to

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