Guardians of the Homeland: Reflections of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) of Regional Damascus and their Journey to Return Home

Ruby Jabasini

Student thesis: Master thesis


More than 3 million internally displaced people (IDPs) have returned to their homes in Syria. This thesis examined the experience of Syrian IDP returnees in the rural Damascus area from their initial forced migration to their return. It explores this through examining their initial intention to return, their key reintegration challenges and the aspirational and structural factors that influence their return and reintegration. A comprehensive literature review on refugee returns established the foundation of a deductive approach to test the research question. Qualitative interviews with 58 Syrian IDP returnees were conducted between February and March 2020 in the countryside surrounding Damascus. These explorative case studies form the basis of the data analyzed through thematic coding in a content analysis. The findings expose an overarching narrative of forced migration where the intention to return was there from their initial departure. The vast majority were economically worse off during their displacement, longed for their home and struggled through multiple migrations before they finally return. Throughout their difficult journey family and close social networks played an important role and were a vital factor in ensuring a successful reintegration both personally and professionally. Many of these experiences are shared with refugees, however, the significant differences between return for IDPs and those who returned from abroad merits further research.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture - Business and Development Studies, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2021
Number of pages124