Princeton University Library Catalog

Reaching the Breaking Point: An Analysis of the Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Jordan and Lebanon

Glackin, Caroline [Browse]
Senior thesis
Kapstein, Ethan B. [Browse]
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs [Browse]
Princeton University. Program in Near Eastern Studies [Browse]
Class year:
Summary note:
Currently, Jordan and Lebanon are hosting millions of Syrian refugees and asylum seekers displaced by the ongoing Syrian crisis. This has placed a strain on Jordan and Lebanon’s economies, job markets, and finite resources like water and food. International aid has been unable to meet the full need of either country, and as refugees have continued to pour in, the strain has increased. Each country eventually hit a “breaking point,” choosing to close borders rather than take in more refugees. Factors including governmental structure and politics, economic anxiety and public opinion, and relationship with the West have influenced Jordan and Lebanon’s abilities to fend off the breaking point. Prior refugee crises (Palestinian and Iraqi) do not appear to have set a precedent for policy in Jordan, while they have had a much stronger influence on Lebanese policy due to Lebanon’s unique political relationship with demographics. Increasingly negative public opinion has pushed Jordan toward the breaking point, although refugees may not be the main source of the public’s worries. The relative strength of the Jordanian government and Jordan’s remarkable relationship with the West have been great assets in dealing with the Syrian crisis. In the end, Jordan’s breaking point was likely brought about by a shift in public opinion and increased economic anxiety as the number of refugees continued to grow. In Lebanon, the weakness of the Lebanese government and its reliance on a delicate demographic balance have been major drawbacks during the Syrian refugee crisis. The difficulty international organizations have faced in coordinating with the Lebanese government has complicated the delivery of aid, and an unwillingness to change the demographics of the country has made it impossible for Lebanon to contemplate refugee integration. These were the major factors leading to Lebanon’s breaking point.