1.The global migration crisis is a human tragedy with complex causes.

2.There are no instant fixes – large scale migration is likely with us for a generation. The long term solution lies in upstream prevention.

3.Emergency action is needed to support displaced people and the countries sheltering them.

The global migration crisis is a human tragedy with complex causes.

  • The crisis involves desperate individuals and families fleeing war, persecution, poverty and disease.
  • The flows of migrants around the world will continue as long as the places people are leaving behind remain inhospitable to the basic human rights to a peaceful home life, freedom of conscience and personal prosperity.
  • The journeys being undertaken by Syrians, Eritreans, Iraqis, Afghanis, Bangladeshis, Rohingyas, Iranians, Somalis, Pakistanis and others are fraught with danger. The risks people are taking demonstrate the desperation driving the increase in global migration.

The long term solution lies in upstream prevention

  • The flow of people being displaced by the conflicts in Syria and Iraq will continue until long term peace is in place. Similarly reducing migration from and via Libya will require stability and prosperity in the country.
  • Defeating ISIL-Daesh and achieving stability in Syria and the wider region is vital.  It is likely to require military, diplomatic, development aid and soft power interventions by international actors and action by national and regional governments.
  • Where people are displaced within or are leaving fragile and post-conflict states, economic, governmental and educational reforms are needed to provide people with the opportunities to build a peaceful, prosperous life at home without the need for migration.
  • These types of migration can be tackled ‘upstream’ through international development aid and soft power interventions that support: institutional strengthening; improved security and access to justice; the promotion of human rights; land reform; systemic change in health and education; skills development.
  • The British Council’s upstream prevention work supports educational reforms; institutional, civil society and Parliamentary strengthening; skills development; and language education, life skills and cultural understanding – all of which have a crucial impact on the resilience of individuals and communities.

Emergency action

  • A large proportion of the refugee populations in camps in Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon are under 18, raising concerns of a ‘lost generation’, deprived of educational and vocational opportunities, and susceptible to extremism. The British Council is working to support host communities to provide alternative pathways and positive opportunities through education and skills development.


  • A small number of fragile countries host the majority of the world’s refugees. Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Palestine host more than 50% of all refugees.
  • The conflicts in Syria and Iraq have led to significant increases in the numbers of refugees and migrants in Europe and the Middle East.
  • More than a million people crossed the Mediterranean into Europe in 2015, the vast majority making the hazardous sea journey across the Central Mediterranean from Libya into Italy or via the eastern route from Turkey into Greece.
  • The majority of the people taking the eastern route are Syrian refugees – more than 11 million people have been displaced by the conflict in Syria.
  • Conditions in the camps and receding hopes of any kind of future in Syria are leading some displaced Syrians to make the perilous journey to Europe.
  • The British Government has committed over £1bn to the humanitarian crisis in Syria and has announced plans to resettle up to 20,000 Syrian refugees in the UK from refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon over the next five years.

British Council programmes

  • With over four million Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, we are working in these countries to support their education and integration.
  • Since 2013, British Council projects responding to the Syrian crisis have reached over 100,000 Syrians, and thousands more from host communities, particularly in Jordan and Lebanon, who have been most affected by the crisis.
  • We have improved the quality of school education and English language learning for over 100,000 Syrian children, as well as thousands of vulnerable Lebanese and Jordanian children in host communities, through delivery of face to face training for 1470  teachers in public and NGO-run schools with high numbers of Syrian children in their classrooms.
  • The British Council is leading on developing innovative approaches for supporting displaced youth in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria through the LASER programme (Language and Academic Skills and E-learning for Refugees). By 2018, over 3000 vulnerable students from refugee camps and host communities will have improved access to tertiary education through online higher education study, English language training and academic skills.
  • We have provided grants and language support to enable 127 Syrian PhD students to complete their studies at UK universities under the Syria Higher Education Capacity Development Programme – the largest programme in the UK supporting Syrian students (covering over one-third of all Syrians at postgraduate level in the UK).
  • In Jordan, the British Council provides teacher training for 200 English teachers working in informal education and, in partnership with UNICEF, is training and mentoring Ministry of Education teachers working in double-shifted schools. With the EU we provide language and academic skills to prepare refugees and disadvantaged Jordanians for higher education.
  • The British Council has supported the development of a grassroots, values-led Syrian civil society network through training, materials and funding. Born out of the British Council’s Active Citizens programme, the network has gone on to become one of the most respected civil society actors in Syria, with over 4000 members still active inside Syria delivering more than 100 social action projects that contribute to community resilience.
  • In addition to our with displaced Syrians and host communities in MENA, we are also active in other fragile places where instability and security concerns are resulting in significant numbers of people being displaced.
  • In Afghanistan for example, we deliver the Tawanmandi project, funded by DFID and Nordic donors, to strengthen civil society organisations and improve the Afghan government’s accountability, responsiveness and respect for human rights. We are working with the European Union to expand our Active Citizens programme in Sudan. Through the DFID-funded Justice for All programme, we are increasing the effectiveness of police services in Nigeria and strengthening anti-corruption agencies.