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Media Representation Of Syrian Refugees

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Discuss about the Media Representation of Syrian Refugees.




This study aims to analyse the media representation for Syria refugees. Anti governmental movement was started in Syria during 2011. Begin of Syrian civil war had displaced many people from this country. In the need of humanitarian assistance, Syrian people dispersed globally especially in the Middle Eastern countries like Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. About to 10 percent refugees went to Europe in search of shelter.  Syrian children faced hardship and violence due to this civil wars and refugee crisis. Number of refugees has increased from 2011 to 2012 and 2013 (Koser, 2015). This study focuses on the conflict theories in the context of Syrian refugees and the role of media. Syrian refugees lost their social and economic and cultural life due to this war. They are facing conflicts regarding food, shelter, job and other amenities of life. Media played an important role to highlight those issues in front of public. However, there have been different views among various Medias regarding Syrian refugees.


Thesis Statement

Syrian refugees are struggling till now even after passing four years of Civil war. The refugees yet not have been able to return their normal life. Media has played an important role to highlight issues to the host country’s government and provide public insight about the distress condition of the refugees. Therefore, the objective of the study is to analyse the role of the media in resolving the challenges of refugees.


Theoretical Approach

Refugees are regarded as minorities in other countries and not treated same as the citizen of the receiving countries. Therefore, the refugees face confliction of rights and feel themselves deprived. Media has a power to influence the perception of people. Media is an important mode of flow of information. Hence, they have power to present the information and issues about those refugees to attract required attention of government and provision better life for them (, 2016).

Functionalism approach is followed in this study to explain the problems of the refugees. According to Moore (1945), functionalism approach deals with the question on identity, culture and ethnicity. As far as the refugees are concerned, they are uprooted from their national territory and hence, they lose their identity, tradition and culture. Initial displacement of the refugees occurs generally across the nearest international boarder. Same thing happened for the Syrian refugees. They took shelter in the neighbouring countries like Jordon, Lebanon and Turkey. Increase in refugees on the other hand creates burden on the receiving country’s job market and government faces fiscal challenges. A significant number of Syrian refugees have arrived in Greece, which is already suffering from high unemployment rate and fiscal challenges (, 2016).

Refugees are facing several challenges in their livelihood. They experience a cultural change. All the refugees were nor poor in their home country. Moreover, they may be well educated and established in the work place. Those people have to adopt new culture, language in order to survive in the receiving country.  They are facing identity crisis also in the receiving countries. Cultural identity is an important aspect of functionalism (Yu, n.d).

In the view of Koser (2015), inequality exists in a society when some people cannot afford to get required resources to maintain their livelihood. According to Marxian view, economic, cultural and political disposition create social inequality in an economy. This type of inequality is generally created in open economy. There is little chance of movement of resources and people across the geographical boarder. When there is influx of refugees in the economy, confliction arises between the refugees and the domestic citizen for the right, space and food. Jordon is a water scarce country. Hence, influx of Syrian refugees has created burden on the country’s water system. Both the people of Jordan and Syria have been sacrificing to adjust with the water crisis. Syrian people are facing challenges remembering plenty of running water in their home country and the people of Jordan sacrificing their share on available water in their country.


Education is the fundamental right of every child. However, after the Syrian crisis, 68% of Syrian refugee children do not afford to go school. They are deprived of getting any formal education. Various media have highlighted that there is no school nearby the refugee camp. The refugee child is deprived by turned away from school because of overcrowding. Media played an important role to highlight the issue (, 2016).

One of the important challenge faced by Syrian refugees are adaptation of new cultural norms practiced in the receiving countries. Racism is another challenge faced by the refugees. It is difficult for a refugee to find a suitable job according to the qualification. Job market regulation is different is different country. Therefore, matching a job criterion becomes difficult for the refugees. Therefore, uncertainty in job availability, income earning diminish standard of living of those refuges (Friesen, 2016). Uncertainty in income earning has negative impact on the other necessary aspects of life such as education, health, cultural aspects. Language becomes barrier in obtaining required resources in the receiving country (, 2016).

Shelter is the basic necessity for which the migration of refugees occurs in a state. It has been highlighted in several media coverage that refugees are suffering from not getting proper shelter in the receiving countries. Geographical area is not same in all the countries. Hence, refugees have got unconventional place to live. Natural calamities worsen their distress. Lebanon is small country compared to other neighbouring countries. Hence, this country is becoming over populous due to influx of refugees. Media coverage has played a significant role in this respect. Governments of many European countries have decided to plan regarding resettlement of Syrian refugees in coming years. Countries like Germany, Hungary, and Sweden are taking policies to provide asylum for those refugees. Therefore, it can be said that Social media and newspaper reporting have played an important role in resettlement of the refugees.

Media in some cases has played important role in providing training, apprenticeships to the refugees to help them in finding a job. Canadian economy has played important role to help the Syrian refugees. Refugees started to enter into Canada since 2015. Humanitarian assistance, Syria emergency relief fund and other development projects are important steps of Canadian government (, 2016).


Media has been played both positive and negative role in highlighting the challenges of Syrian refugee crisis. The publications such as The Guardian and The Independent has been playing significant role in focusing the major issues regarding struggles and safety of the Syrian refugees. These publications have been highlighting the human face of the crisis. On the other hand, publications like The Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror used dehumanising languages during reporting about the refugees. They referred refugees as ‘migrant’ without focusing on their crisis. Use of such term has negative repercussion on public mind. This type of reporting in newspapers creates conflicts in the nation (, 2016).

As stated by Friesen (2016), there is a crucial difference between refugee and migrant. Refugees are person, who are fled away from their home country in the fear of war or conflict. They seek assistance from other countries for basic needs of life. Migrants on the other hand are people, who move to other country on their own will in order to better living status or job purpose. Refugees are more vulnerable compared to the migrants. Refugees have fear of losing their identity, dignity and normal livelihood.  They even fear to return to their home country, whereas migrants have no such fear. Therefore, unethical reporting in media may create negative impact on society. If the people fled from Syria are termed as migrants, it is natural that they get less attention and support from politicians. It will be difficult for the refugees to get back to the normal life. However, these publications have been severely criticised on the social media.

One example can be given to highlight the role of the UK media on this issue. The death of a three years old Syrian boy on Turkey beach was turning point of media reporting. This tragedy happened when the Syrian family tries to reach Greece. Almost every top newspaper of Europe covered the news on the front page attracting attention of the Government and public. This reputing has changed the European attitude towards the refugees (, 2016).

It has been seen that press system in Sweden has been positive in reporting about Syrian refugees. Those media made a strong advocate for providing asylum for the refugees. It has been observed that newspaper reporting has highlighted national division within European Union and has reported different views about crisis. More than hundred journalists were killed in Syria to restrict the coverage of the true story and consequences of war. Although media is proactive to highlight the issues of refugees, problems are still present as there are conflicts in the political views in policy formation (Koser, 2015).



The study focuses on the problems of Syrian refugees and the role of media in overcoming those issues. Media is an important part of an economy, which influences decision making of individual. Presentation of report influences even the planning of government. Media is an important mode of flow of information across geographical boundary. Syria faced political and economic crisis during 2011 after the start of civil war. Syrian people dispersed crossed the neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan to take safe shelter. Many Syrian refugees have fled to the European countries such as Germany, Sweden, Hungary, Paris and Greece. Influx of refugees created problem for both those highlighted economy and also for those refugees. According to functionalism, main aspects of this analysis are identity, culture and ethnicity of those refugees. Refugees in those countries have been facing economic, cultural and political conflicts. They have been facing challenges regarding food, shelter, water and job. Culture and languages becomes barrier for refuges to smooth their livelihood.

Media has been played a significant role in overcoming those issues in the receiving countries. Even after four years of Syrian war, media is highlighting the challenges faced by those refugees. Different national newspaper has highlighted the issues in different ways. However, publications such as The Guardian, The Independent have focused on the human face of the Syrian crisis. The positive role of media has greatly influenced to the government of different European countries to change their policies regarding resettlement of Syrian refugees in their country.



Friesen, J. (2016). Syrian exodus to Canada: One year later, a look at who the refugees are and where they went. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 8 December 2016, from (2016). Canada’s response to the conflict in Syria. Retrieved from

Introduction to sociology, instructor: Rita Yu, Chpter 5, Social inequality, pages 136-139

Koser. K., (2015, November 12). Europe’s refugee crisis explained. Retrieved 8 December 2016, from (2016). Quick facts: What you need to know about the Syria crisis. Retrieved 8 December 2016, from (2016).  Syrian refugee crisis FAQ: What you need to know | World Vision Retrieved from


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