Skip to main content

General remarks, including the implications of leaving Syria

Guidance note
Last updated: September 2020

During the course of the war, Syria became the scene for a series of intersecting conflicts involving many internal and international actors. Three main campaigns have driven the conflict in Syria: violence between the Syrian government and opposition forces; the efforts of a US-led coalition to defeat ISIL; and the military operations against Syrian Kurds by Turkish forces. Complex alliances, shifting allegiances, rivalries and conflicting interests between the actors involved continue to affect the balance of power and to foster uncertainty.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed, with most international experts estimating the number around 500 000 since the beginning of the conflict. The conflict has also caused the biggest displacement crisis in the world. Over 5.5 million Syrians live as refugees in the region and more than six million are displaced within the country.

The significant impact on the civilian population in the country has been the result of deliberate targeting by multiple actors, as well as risks associated with indiscriminate violence.
The individual assessment of international protection needs should also take into account the presence and activity of different actors in the applicant’s home area and the situation in the areas the applicant would need to travel through in order to reach their home area. Moreover, the assessment should account for the dynamically changing security situation in the country.
It should also be noted that in some cases, where international protection needs would be established, exclusion considerations may be relevant.

It is inherent in the situation of applicants for international protection that they have left their country of origin. In the context of Syria, and in particular of targeting by the government of Syria (GoS), this in itself could have implications for the treatment of an individual upon return.[14] This section is to be read in conjunction with the other sections of this country guidance, and in particular those concerning different profiles under Refugee status, Article 15(b) QD, Actors of protection  and Internal protection alternative.

For information on the situation of returnees, see the section in the common analysis: The implications of leaving Syria.

The fact of having left Syria in itself would not normally lead to the level of risk required to establish well-founded fear of persecution. In most cases where a well-founded fear of persecution is substantiated, this would be related to circumstances falling under other profiles included in this guidance, and in particular Persons perceived to be opposing the government. However, in some cases, returnees could be exposed to acts which are of such severe nature that they would amount to persecution (e.g. arrest, torture) and a nexus to a reason for persecution may be substantiated. In cases where no nexus can be substantiated, the implications of having left Syria may be a relevant consideration with regard to subsidiary protection. They should also be taken into account when assessing the willingness of the GoS to provide protection in the meaning of Article 7 QD and in the assessment of IPA.



[14]  This section uses the terms ‘return’ and ‘returnee’ in their usual meaning in everyday language, and not in accordance with Directive 2008/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals (Return Directive). [back to text]