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Let Displaced Syrians Join the Labor Market

A Jordanian army car carries Syrian refugees near the town of Ramtha, September 2012. Muhammad Hamed / REUTERS

There are now some 60 million displaced people around the world, more than at any time since World War II. The Syrian crisis alone, which has created the largest refugee shock of the era, has displaced some ten million people, around four million of them across international borders. In recent months, Western attention has focused almost exclusively on the flood of these refugees to Europe. Yet most of the Syrian refugees have been taken in not by Western countries but by Syria’s neighboring states: Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, whose capacity has been overwhelmed. Lebanon, with a population of around four million and a territory smaller than Maryland, is hosting over a million Syrian refugees. Young people are overrepresented in the refugee population, so that more than half of the school-aged children in Lebanon are now Syrian.

International policy toward the Syrian refugee crisis is both antiquated and fueled by panic.

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