A Long Way Home : Spontaneous Returns and Potential Returns of Syrian Refugees Examined
Abstract: The recent wave of Syrian refugees’ spontaneous return to conflict areas in Syria is not a new phenomenon, various cases of return to areas that do not meet safety and security standards has happened in cases like Somali refugees returning from Kenya or Angolan refugees returning from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, the Syrian case is important to study in order to examine any new patterns or elements in refugee returns that could arise or could be unpacked by looking into the Syrian case. This study examines Syrian refugees’ spontaneous returns, to what is considered by the international community as unsafe Syria, and discusses reasons for return by refugees returning currently and refugees who answer the question of return. The study finds that the notion of “home” and “homeland” are amongst the most influential when it comes to the decision to return coupled with push factors like livelihood issues and discrimination in host countries, in addition to pull factors from country of origin like amnesty regarding military conscription. The study also finds that refugees not returning do so due to starting a new life, not having guarantees of safety and having lost everything in their home country. The study confirms King’s (2000) argument regarding home country pull factors having a bigger influence in impacting refugee returns.This study uses discourse analysis as a method using the proposed framework of Teun A. van Dijk’s (1985, 2011), the primary data source are interviews by Syrian refugees on YouTube in the Arabic Language. YouTube was chosen due to the role it played throughout the Syrian revolution in providing news to Syrians. The analysis of the data will use a four-dimensional framework which disects push and pull factors, then examins them through the transnational and diaspora theories for refugee returns and has the place-identity theory as an overall starting point.The study concludes by recommending the international community pays more attention to the psychological factos from the home country so interventions and programmes of return make sure refugees are safe and protected and not falsely lured into return.
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