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The Syrian refugee crisis has attracted Western attention largely because of its modest spillover into Europe. But this spillover represents a mere fraction of the misery caused by mass displacement today: only around 15 percent of Syria’s 5.8 million refugees have attempted to reach Europe, and the Syrian refugee surge is itself only one of several around the world. The challenge of mass displacement is largely one of geographical concentration: nearly 60 percent of the world’s refugees are hosted by just ten haven countries, each bordering a conflict zone. It is in these countries—Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, in the case of the Syrian civil war—where new approaches are most direly needed. In October, Foreign Affairs published our proposal for a new approach to the Syrian refugee crisis. By allowing displaced Syrians to work in special economic zones (SEZs) in Jordan, we argued, Amman could provide displaced Syrians with the jobs, education, and autonomy they need while advancing its own industrial development. Since our article was published, our idea has gained political traction.

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Council on Foreign Relations

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