Refugees’ remittances to precarious IDPs in North Syria, Al Raeai between 2017 and 2022
The conflict in Syria has forced 13.4 million people to leave their homes (UNHCR, 2021). Of these, 6.7 million are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), many of whom live in makeshift camps, cities, and villages in northern Syria. IDPs live under precarious circumstances, experiencing a high degree of vulnerability, instability and anxiety about further displacement. In such a context, remittances sent by refugees are a source of support for IDPs who are dealing with anxiety and alleviating their displacement. While there are abundant studies of coping strategies for economic and financial crises (Lokshin & Yemtsov, 2004; Dercon, 2004), such strategies during armed conflicts, and particularly the role of remittances, are still largely overlooked. This study will explore the impact and role of refugee remittances as part of the repertoire of financial coping strategies of displaced people with a focus on the Al Raeai region in Northern Syria. It will do so by exploring the uniqueness of these remittances, the extent to which they contribute to IDP households’ income, the social impact they play, the risks of interruption, and finally how they have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. On 8th July 2022, the UN Security Council failed to reauthorize use of the Bab al-Hawa border crossing for the delivery of humanitarian aid into Syria, a critical lifeline to more than 4.1 million people in the country’s north-west, many of whom were forcibly displaced by violence during the 11-year war. Hence, remittances from refugees to IDPs through informal channels are increasingly important alternatives to international efforts and mechanisms. Moreover, the study will focus on the associated conditions of protracted displacement such as lack of job opportunities, lack of financial support, and the absence of a solution to the Syrian crisis in the foreseeable future. In many cases, remittances are urgent responses to unforeseeable changes such as intensified military operations, bombing-related injuries, or sudden decisions to leave for a safer place. After 11 years of ongoing conflict, some families have been displaced multiple times, each time facing a new context with different needs. Despite the increasing research interest in the role of remittances in conflict countries, remittances from refugees to IDPs have been overlooked in existing literature (Rodima-Taylor, 2022). The dynamics and impacts of remittances are extremely important for all those interested in poverty and forced migration issues. Evidence suggests that remittances are affected by factors and contexts of forced displacement that differ from factors in other contexts, such as economic migration (Justino, 2011). Hence, the study of remittances in the Syrian context is of great empirical and theoretical significance to make an original contribution to fill part of this gap. Furthermore, this research project will provide recommendations to relevant stakeholders such as the local council of Al Raeai city, humanitarian organizations operating in the region and the international community bodies. It also aims to highlight the significance and raise the awareness of refugees and displaced persons of the importance of the role of these transfers, in addition to encouraging researchers to further explore and research similar contexts.