This month marks 12 years since a popular uprising in Syria erupted as part of the wave of Arab uprisings known as the Arab Spring and soon turned into an all-out civil war. Since then, over 300,000 civilians have been killed and millions of people displaced.
The past year of the conflict has been marked by a string of political wins for the Syrian regime, as several countries once seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sought to reconcile with him. At the same time, the year brought nothing but greater misery for Syrians, battered by a cholera epidemic, February’s devastating earthquake and shortages of fuel that have paralyzed economic life and helped deepen poverty and hunger.
Though the frontlines across Syria stabilized three years ago, this past year did not bring the country any closer to an end to the conflict. And the reduction in levels of violence compared to earlier stages of the war has not led Syrian refugees to return to their homeland in any significant numbers. Syrian refugees know full-well that what awaits them there is an unwaveringly repressive regime, a collapsed economy and widespread insecurity and lawlessness.