Jordan's Refugee Experiment

A New Model for Helping the Displaced

Syrian children decorate a wall at their school in Jordan's Zaatari refugee camp, March 2014.  Muhammad Hamed / REUTERS

The Syrian refugee crisis has attracted Western attention largely because of its modest spillover into Europe. But this spillover represents a mere fraction of the misery caused by mass displacement today: only around 15 percent of Syria’s 5.8 million refugees have attempted to reach Europe, and the Syrian refugee surge is itself only one of several around the world.

The challenge of mass displacement is largely one of geographical concentration: nearly 60 percent of the world’s refugees are hosted by just ten haven countries, each bordering a conflict zone. It is in these countries—Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, in the case of the Syrian civil war—where new approaches are most direly needed: policies that are sustainable and scalable and that allow displaced people to learn, work, and flourish until they are able to return to their homes and rebuild their societies. With European leaders focused on keeping Syrian refugees out

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