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Climate and Migration in Syria

Logo for the journal Kvartal

CMES researcher Lina Eklund has been interviewed in Swedish online journal Kvartal about climate and migration from Syria.

The article "Flydde Syrienflyktingar från klimatet?" (English translation: "Did Syrian Refugees Flee the Climate?"), written by Henrik Höjer, was published online on 10 August 2023 in Kvartal. Below are som excerpts from the article translated into English.

In the article, Lina discusses her research with Pinar Dinc, which was recently published in Climate and Development.

Read the article in Swedish

It has sometimes been said that the refugees from Syria were in fact climate refugees. Now this claim has been tested scientifically. Through satellite images and interviews, researchers at Lund University have now analyzed the drought that hit Syria - and how it affected migration within the country and from Syria.

Lina Eklund, researcher at CMES and the Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science at Lund University, is one of the researchers who have studied this issue.

– There has been a notion that climate change contributed to the war in Syria, that the drought has affected agriculture and that this has led to migration to the cities and also to people fleeing the country. (...) People have seemed to see a connection, but we wanted to test it scientifically.

– Our results show that it has not been as simple as the dominant narrative that emphasized the significance of the drought. People are moving from the countryside even before the worst of the drought and when the war broke out. And when the drought was at its worst, hardly anyone moved at all.

So the impact of drought and climate seems to have been exaggerated.

– It has been too easy for many to blame migration on the climate and the climate change that has been created primarily by the Western world. Among other things, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has done this to reduce his own responsibility for the war and the refugees.

Lina Eklund's research profile

Pinar Dinc's research profile

This publication is part of the project Climate Stress Syria. Learn more about the project here.