Lost: Syrian Refugees and the Information Gap

Internews research amongst Syrian refugees in camps and urban locations in Lebanon reveals high levels of frustration and confusion amongst refugees about where to turn for help.

The report – Lost: Syrian Refugees and the Information Gap – presents findings that pose both unique challenges and opportunities for programs seeking to provide humanitarian information to Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

So far, according to the report, there is little evidence of any comprehensive strategy or investment in providing a humanitarian communication strategy. Various agencies are employing piecemeal tactics to communication through counseling lines, SMS and face-to-face outreach, yet all of these have their limitations.

Furthermore it is clear from Internews research presented here that all current outreach tactics are fundamentally undermined by a profound lack of trust and/or understanding on the part of the refugees about what they are being told, and by whom. Syria has a long history as one of the most media-oppressed countries in the world and the Syrians have a mistrust of media and officialdom in general.

The report makes a strong case for urgent coordination between humanitarian agencies working inside Syria and in the surrounding countries to design communication strategies that:

  • are based on an understanding of the ways in which refugees currently uptake and exchange information;
  • tackle the issues of widespread mistrust, and
  • seek to infuse current cross-border information flows with a consistent stream of reliable and actionable humanitarian information.

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    More than 130 million people, including refugees and internally displaced people, around the world need humanitarian assistance to survive. A very important part of that assistance includes information that people can use to make decisions about their lives, including a feedback loop so that humanitarian aid workers know what kind of information the communities they serve are asking for and need.