(Dis)integration: Palestinian Refugees in the Syrian Civil War
Up until 2011, the Palestinian refugees of Syria (PRS) enjoyed the highest level of socio-economic integration of any Palestinian refugee community outside of Jordan. They had achieved a high level of performance on a range of socio-economic indicators, including favorable living conditions and expansive opportunities in the domestic job market. Moreover, the early legal integration of the PRS, in combination with the regime’s attempted cooptation of the Palestinian nationalist movement, afforded the PRS a distinct social and political role in Syria, in addition to their relative economic success.
However the violence that has engulfed Syria since the advent of the Arab Uprisings has dramatically altered the position of the country’s Palestinians and demonstrates their acute vulnerability. Like most Syrians, the PRS have found much of their social and economic gains reversed as a result of the conflict. However, their status as refugees will present unique challenges for the Palestinian refugees in Syria that will undermine their position and re-integration in a post-conflict Syria. The broad national conditions that once facilitated their robust socio-economic integration into Syrian society have all but evaporated. The deterioration of the Syria economy and the increasingly polarized social and political climate will likely preclude the possibility that the PRS will be reintegrated into Syrian society at pre-conflict levels.