|University of Oslo
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As the main refugee-recipient country for the post-2003 Iraqi exodus, Syria is currently believed to host more than one million Iraqi refugees in a volatile region. This warrants interest for anyone concerned with the transnational security implications of refugee flows from countries experiencing internal strife. Which are the most important of pre- or post-displacement factors for Syrian domestic security? Critically applying Lischer’s theory on refugee-related political violence, this field-based study of predominantly Christian Iraqi refugees in a Damascene suburb presents data on and analyzes such factors, respectively the ‘context’ (causes of flight in country of origin) and ‘characteristics’ (socioeconomic situation in country of refuge) of the refugee situation. Offering a possible theoretical critique of Lischer’s analytical framework, I argue that the question of domestic security in Syria seems to be largely a matter of socioeconomic characteristics, i.e. of policy effectiveness in meeting the socioeconomic needs of urban refugees and locals. Consequently, relief and development should be linked and Syria must start capitalizing on Iraqi human capital by allowing refugees to lead more productive lives.