Age of Unrest: Syrian Refugee Youth at the Crossroads


March 11, 2016

Click here to download the full report ▸
Click here to download the full report in Turkish ▸
Click here to download the full report in Arabic ▸
Click here to download the executive summary ▸
Click here to download the executive summary in Arabic ▸

Who do Syria’s youth want to become? How has war changed the way they think about the future? What will they do after the fighting stops?

Since 2012, Mercy Corps has mounted one of the largest responses to the Syria crisis. During that time, we have listened particularly to the needs of Syria’s refugee youth, a group now in excess of 1 million young people seeking safety in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq. Until now, these youth have been largely forgotten—so overlooked that we can’t even say for sure how many of them there are. After five years of war, they are struggling with what to do with their lives. Without intervention, this generation will grow alienated and hopeless, prey to violent extremism that feeds on a sense of injustice.

Yet even in this bleak reality, these youth offer hope and possibility. Young Syrians have the potential to prosper in the countries of their exile and rebuild a Syria finally at peace. Our new report, Age of Unrest: Syrian Refugee Youth at the Crossroads, examines how we can help them realize this promise.

We must:

  • See the big picture. Young people don’t live their lives separated out into different boxes. We need to make sure all their needs—physical, emotional, educational and economic—get talked about, listened to, and acted upon.

  • Make young people real partners in change. We need to empower young people, listen to them, and give them a real voice in shaping real decisions.

  • Focus on well-being, education and employment. We need to help young people understand their stresses and make good decisions. We must invest in non-formal education that can reach the hundreds of thousands of youth who have dropped out of school. And we need to build a foundation for safe, decent and fair jobs for refugees—especially jobs that will be vital for post-war reconstruction.

We can help young Syrians realize their promise. But the time to act is now.

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