Syria Unsettled is a collaborative book project, with contributions from architects and social scientists, that examines the broad range of spatial strategies that have been pursued through the experiences of the world’s largest displaced population beyond the narrow logic of the refugee camp.
The conflict in Syria has resulted in the devastation of entire cityscapes displacing millions from their homes and communities. Even for those Syrians that have not been displaced almost all have been unsettled to some extent. This great unsettlement has produced entire new geographies of survival. The scale and complex dynamics of Syrian ‘unsettlement’ has magnified the inadequacies of the aid mechanisms established to deal with forced displacement and refugees. The idea of the camp is tightly correlated to the figure of the refugee and the condition of displacement. The spatial mechanism of the refugee camp, however, does not satisfy the demands of Syrian unsettlement. Less than ten percent of Syrians are currently in camps, and many seeking refuge actively avoid them. The UN originally viewed the spatial isolation of camps as an effective means to deliver targeted aid and provide protection for short-term stays, but is now reacting to clear evidence that camps are insufficient, even harmful, to provide for refugees’ wellbeing. Overwhelmingly, displaced persons and other stakeholders attempt to resolve their unsettlement through integration into pre-exististing urban fabrics.
Syria Unsettled considers the wide range of spatial strategies that have emerged to address Syrian unsettlement. This includes case studies engaging Syrians themselves but also receiving communities, national governments, national and international NGOs and international organizations, such as the UN. This volume analyzes, for instance, how Syrians have repurposed ancient caves and ruins in Aleppo and Idlib, the emergency informal settlements that have been formed inLebanon and the various levels of urban integration that has been achieved in Turkey. We engage in the latest policy discussions in regard to what has worked and what innovations have emerged in Syrians insertion into urban fabrics around the world. Authors document the remarkable journeys that Syrians have undertaken, such as the 5,000 Syrians that made the perilous journey by bicycle along the Arctic route and settled in a Second World War subterranean shelter in the Norwegian border town of Kirkenes.
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Maureen Abi Ghanem
Morgan Alexander Ip