People have always moved about the globe, from one region to another. The reasons for their movements have been varied. In the past, when humans were mostly hunters and gatherers, their movements were motivated by the abundance of resources – they travelled to where the resources were. Today, people can be motivated by different reasons, including finding work, to get an education education, or simply a desire to live in a different place.
In the Middle East and Africa, however, exists a much larger, well used and dangerous migration route – it is the route that people take out of their homelands to Europe. This has been called the world’s most dangerous migration route (Elliott). In the media today much attention has been drawn especially to the plight of the Syrian refugees who have been using this migration route by the thousands, leaving their homeland in search of a better life. Understanding their motivations for undertaking such a journey must begin by analyzing the push and pull factors of the Syrian refugees.

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Push and Pull Factors of Syrian Refugees

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Push factors are those factors that motivate people to leave one area. For Syrians, this is mainly due to the fact that many of their lives are threatened in Syria, where a destabilizing conflict is being waged. No matter what side of the conflict Syrians find themselves on, their safety is threatened. They are pushed to leave their homeland in order to save their lives. Not wanting to go far, however, in hopes that the conflict will soon be over and they will be able to return to their homes, they pour into the surrounding countries – including Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon. However, as these countries become overly flooded by refugees, they find it harder to live. Rent is high and there is little opportunity for employment and education (Salopek).

These refugees are then pulled towards a longer migration to Europe. Europe, for them, offers hope for a better life. Syrian’s watch the news and pay attention to social media, where they are often presented with images and stories of Syrian’s being greeted by European leaders with open arms (Elliott). These images are inspiration to the refugees, who are suffering in camps with no hopes for a better life for themselves or their children. They believe that if they can make it to Europe, they will have opportunities that are lost to them in their homeland. While the migration to Europe is dangerous and expensive, they feel the risk is worth the potential reward.

Refugee camps are not permanent settlements, but are simply a stopping point along a journey. It is estimated that 80% of arrivals will leave within 3 months, which is not surprising considering the unappealing nature of the camps (Elliott). Syrian refugees are pushed and pulled along a route for reasons beyond their control. The war that began in 2011 has wrecked their country, destroying any chance of a happy future for its citizens. Being pushed out of one region, they find hope to be pulled into another.

The migration route from Syria to Europe will likely continue to be flooded with refugees for months and years to come. The war seems to have no end in sight, despite the number of domestic and foreign entities involved in the fray. However, hope remains that if the conflict is ended, the Syrian people will again be able to make the migration in the opposite direction, pulled back to their homeland to begin their lives there again.

  • Elliott, Sarah. “The Push and Pull of the World’s Most Dangerous Migration Route – What’s
    Really Behind the Flock of Thousands to Europe These Days?” OxPol, The Oxford University Politics Blog. 22 Feb. 2015. Web. 6 Dec. 2015.
  • Salopek, Paul. “Fleeing Terror, Finding Refuge.” National Geographic. March 2015. Web. 6 Dec. 2015.