May 2011: The Syrian refugee crisis begins
In May, people—mostly women and children—flee harsh fighting in the town of Talkalakh, in northwestern Syria. Many cross into Lebanon.
June, 2011: First refugees enter Turkey
The military siege of Jisr al-Shughour, a city in northwestern Syria, sparks a major flow of refugees into neighboring Turkey.
July, 2011: Syrians find refuge in Jordan
Jordan sees an increase in refugees, with the majority coming from the Syrian border town of Deraa.
November 15, 2011: Turkey sets up camps for refugees
By the end of 2011, Turkey has spent up to $15 million to set up six camps for thousands of refugees and military defectors.
March, 2012: Bekaa valley major destination of refugees
Starting around March 2012, the Bekaa valley, a poor and mostly agricultural region, becomes the principle destination in Lebanon for Syrian refugees who are fleeing fierce fighting in nearby Homs, Quseir, Zabadani and Hama. Most refugees settle in towns with friends and relatives or in squatter communities in the hills.
April 4, 2012: Domiz Camp opens in Iraq
Many Syrian refugees of Kurdish origin head for the Iraqi Kurdistan region in northern Iraq. The Domiz refugee camp officially opens on April 4, 2012, near the city of Dahuk in the Kurdistan region.
July 3, 2012: Fighting flares up in Aleppo
Aleppo is only 30 miles from the Turkish border. Intense warfare causes up to 200,000 to flee, with thousands crossing over to Turkey.
In response, Greece beefs up border guards in case of an influx of Syrian refugees. Situation in Turkish camps deteriorate rapidly and tensions between Turks and Syrians begin to rise.
July 18, 2012: Exodus into Lebanon following Damascus fighting
On July 18, 2012, a bomb explodes in Damascus, killing President Bashar al-Assad’s brother-in-law and other high-ranking security officials. Anywhere from 18,000 to 40,000 refugees cross the Masnaa border post into Lebanon in the next few days.
July 29, 2012: UNHCR opens Za’atari camp in northern Jordan
Located in a windswept desert, UNHCR claims the Za’atari camp in northern Jordan can eventually host up to 113,000 refugees.
August 22, 2012 — December 12, 2012: Fighting in Tripoli, Lebanon mirrors Syria conflict
Gunfights and clashes between members of Tripoli’s Sunni and Alawite communities in Lebanon’s second-largest city.
September 11, 2012: Up to 11,000 people flee Syria in 24-hour period
UNHCR reports that more than 11,000 Syrians flee into Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon in a day’s time.
September 25, 2012: Riots in Za’atari camp
At least one person is killed and dozens hurt in a riot at Jordan’s Zaatari camp, home to some 106,000 refugees from Syria’s war. The sprawling camp has seen several protests since opening two years ago, mainly over poor living conditions.
December 17, 2012: TB found among Syrian refugees in Lebanon
According to the Lebanese Ministry of Health, multiple cases of tuberculosis (TB) are discovered among Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
December 20, 2012: UN seeks US$ 1 billion in support
The UN refugee agency and its partners appeal to international donors for US$1 billion to support the hundreds of thousands refugees that fled Syria to Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt.
January 12, 2013: Poor weather conditions affect refugees
The worst storms in a decade in the region affect Syrian refugees in neighboring countries. Although humanitarian agencies had prepared for cold weather conditions in advance, refugees suffer, both in official camps and in temporary housing and shelters.
January 22, 2013: Launch of #ChildrenOfSyria
UNICEF launches Children of Syria Campaign to raise awareness about the plight of Syrian refugee children on social media. By end-2013, half the 2 million refugees who have fled the country are children.
March 6, 2013: Number of Syrian refugees reaches one million
The UNHCR announces that the number of Syrians either registered as refugees or being assisted as such has reached the one million mark.
April 4, 2013: Za’atari continues to grow
Za’atari camp is on its way to becoming one of the largest cities in Jordan. Of the 300,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, 73,000 refugees live in Zaatari camp
July 2, 2013: Domiz camp stretched to capacity
Domiz camp, designed to host about 2,000 families, has become the largest Syrian refugee camp in Iraq and is stretched to capacity housing almost 8,000 families. An additional 90,000 refugees are scattered around nearby towns. Securing food, water and adequate sanitation becomes an ever-increasing problem in and around the camp.
July 9, 2013: War is spreading into Lebanon
A string of bombings in Lebanon’s capital are widely seen as proof that the conflict in Syria has spread across the border.
July 16, 2013: Largest refugee outflow since Rwandan genocide
With an average 6,000 people a day fleeing conflict in Syria by summer 2013, UN says such a rate has not been seen since the mid-1990s.
August 18, 2013: Thousands of refugees flee to Iraq
Almost 20,000 refugees cross into Kurdistan in the space of a few days.
September 1, 2013: Number of Syrian refugees reaches two million
The UNHCR announces that the number of Syrians either registered as refugees or being assisted as such has reached the two million mark, including one million children.
September 11, 2013: Germany announces plan refugee resettlement
Germany agrees to resettle 5,000 Syrian refugees - the largest program yet. Refugees can stay for two years.
September 20, 2013: Sweden offers permanent residency to refugees
The Swedish Migration Board announces that all asylum seekers from Syria who have been granted temporary residency in Sweden can receive permanent permits.
October 7, 2013: Turkey builds wall on Syrian border
Turkey builds a two-meter wall in the district of Nusaybin, site of frequent clashes between rebels, Kurds and Arab tribes. Protests break out during the wall’s construction.
October 18, 2013: 16 countries make confirmed pledges
UNHCR encourages countries to offer resettlement opportunities. The UN agency proposes that the international community admits up to 30,00 by end-2014.
November 11, 2013: Bulgaria to build fence on Turkish border
In response to a spike in Syrian asylum seekers, Bulgaria begins construction of an 18 mile border fence south of the town Elhovo. UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres urges European countries to “keep their borders open” during a visit to Bulgaria. “Refugees are not terrorists. They are the first victims of terror, the ones who suffered,” he said.
December 16, 2013: UN launches $6.5 billion appeal
The UN estimates nearly three-quarters of Syria’s 22.4 million population will need humanitarian aid in 2014. About $4.2 billion would be destined to assist refugees in neighboring countries.
January 29, 2014: UK announces it will take up to 500 Syrian refugees
In an agreement with the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR), the British government decided to provide refuge for some of those most traumatized by the crisis in Syria.
February 25, 2014: Syrian refugees at risk of dying from malnutrition
Some 10,000 Syrian children are suffering from acute malnutrition in Lebanon says UNICEF.
March 2, 2014: Viral photo raises public awareness
A photograph taken inside of Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, showing thousands of refugees queuing for aid, goes viral around the world, exposing the shocking conditions endured by 20,000 people trapped inside the camp.
March 11, 2014: A generation at risk
UNICEF releases a report about the 5.5 million Syrian children living in Syria and in neighboring countries. 1.2 million children are now living as refugees in host countries and 37,000 refugee children were born since the conflict began, according to UNICEF. Malnutrition, lack of education, poor healthcare and emotional distress are just a few of the many factors that are creating this “lost generation.”
March 30, 2014: First polio case in Iraq confirmed
The WHO announced that Iraq’s first polio case in 14 years was confirmed by the Iraqi Ministry of Health.
April 3, 2014: Almost 1 in 5 people in Lebanon a Syrian Refugee
The UN announces that almost 1 in 5 people in Lebanon is a Syrian Refugee.
June 29, 2014: Isis announces “Caliphate” in Syria and Iraq
The group claims that the state will erase all state borders. The next day the UN declares that an estimated 1.2 million Iraqis have fled their homes.
July 7, 2014: Europe should do more to resettle refugees
EU Home Affairs Minister Cecilia Malmström says Syria’s neighbors have accepted over three million refugees, while Europe has only absorbed 100,000. Malmström urges other EU countries to follow Sweden and Germany’s example.
August 11, 2014: ISIS takes control
By mid-August, ISIS is the most successful rebel group in Syria, controlling the main Syrian oil and gas fields.
September 21, 2014: ISIS attacks causes refugees to flee to Turkey
ISIS fighters begin attacking Kurdish villages along the Syrian-Turkey border. The Turkish government says more than 130,000 Syrian refugees, many of them Kurds, have crossed the border over the last three days, fleeing from ISIS militants.
October 14, 2014: Siege of Kobani
The Turkish border city of Suruc doubles in population as almost 400,000 Syrian Kurds flee across the border from the besieged city of Kobani and surrounding villages. Refugees arriving in Turkey tell of civilian executions.
October 21, 2014: Rise in infectious diseases Bekaa Valley
A study carried out by the American University of Beirut in the Bekaa region of Lebanon finds that poor living conditions have led to an outbreak of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis among refugees in Lebanon. Transmitted by a sand fly, this disease is not life-threatening but causes disfiguring lesions of the face.
March 9, 2015: Millions of children in need of assistance
In a report timed to coincide with the start of the fourth year of the conflict in Syria, Save the Children, argues that the effects of untreated illnesses on Syrian children were only partly reflected in the documented statistics. They show that at least 1.2 million children have fled to neighboring countries, that 4.3 million in Syria need humanitarian assistance and that more than 10,000 have died in the violence.
March 29, 2015: Turkey Closes All Gates at Border with Syria
After maintaining an open-door policy throughout the four-year conflict in neighboring Syria, Turkey has moved this month to close the two remaining border gates between the countries, shutting out displaced Syrian refugees amid fears of a potential terrorist attack.
May 2015: Record Number of Asylum Applications
The European Union says it has received 626,000 applications for asylum in 2014, the highest number for asylum applications since 1991. Germany fielded about 203,000 of these applications, per Eurostat. Syria is, by far, the top country of origin for refugees (at 19.5 percent of the total share), followed by Afghanistan (6.6 percent) and Eritrea (5.9 percent).
April 19, 2015: Tragedy in the Mediterranean
More than 800 refugees are killed when their boat capsizes in the Mediterranean, 70 miles from the Libyan coast. Only 28 people survive the tragedy. The disaster marks the largest loss of life involving migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean, according to the UNHCR.
April 20, 2015: New EU Plan deemed too vague
Following increased international criticism of the EU’s inaction in solving the migrant crisis, member countries agree on a ten-point plan to increase financial resources for addressing the problem and expanding the search area for naval missions. NGOs say the plan fails to truly address the scale of the migrant crisis or to target its causes.
April 28, 2015: April Deadliest Month On Record
The International Organization for Migration reveals that April was the deadliest month on record for migrants and refugees lost at sea in the Mediterranean. Nearly 1250 men, women, and children drowned.
May 30, 2015: Lesvos calls for help
The mayor of the Greek island of Lesvos calls on the Greek government for immediate support as the number of refugees reaching the island each day rises to 600. Lesvos is on of several Greek islands overwhelmed by the daily arrival of hundreds of people crossing the Aegaen Sea from Turkey and local authorities struggle to accommodate and register the newcomers.
June 2015: UNHCR receives quarter of humanitarian funds
As of late June, only around a quarter of the humanitarian funds ($4.3 billion) requested have been received, says UNHCR.
July, 1, 2015: Mediterranean crisis primarily refugee crisis
The UNHCR announces that one third of the men, women and children who arrived by sea in Italy or Greece were from Syria, whose nationals are almost universally deemed to qualify for refugee status or other forms of protection. The second and third most common countries of origin are Afghanistan and Eritrea, whose nationals are also mostly considered to qualify for refugee status.
July 9, 2015: Number of Syrian refugees exceeds four million
The number of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria to neighboring countries has now passed four million, confirming the crisis as the world’s single largest refugee crisis for almost a quarter of a century under UNHCR mandate.
July 13, 2015: Hungary erects a fence
Hungary starts to erect a razor-wire fence along its border with Serbia, to halt an unprecedented number of refugees seeking entry to the EU.
July 20, 2015: EU countries pledge to accept 30,000 refugees
EU leaders agree to accept 32,256 refugees from Italy and Greece; this is just short of the 40,000 proposed in May by EC president Jean-Claude Juncker.
July 28, 2015: Britain bolsters security Channel Tunnel
Britain pledges an extra seven million pound (10.8 million dollars) to bolster channel security as the crisis in a makeshift refugee camp in Calais deepens. The camp has existed since November 2002 but gains international attention as the number of people trying to reach Britain skyrockets over the summer, with the French and British governments facing increasing political pressure to manage the refugee crisis. Separately, a growing number of volunteers travel to Calais to provide books, water and sanitation facilities to camp residents.
July 31, 2015: UN World Food Programme forced to cut food aid for refugees
The WFP says it has been forced to halve its assistance to almost 1.3 million Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon because of a US$341 million funding shortfall.
August 7, 2015: 50,000 Arrivals in July Alone
The UNHCR notes that 50,000 migrants and refugees had arrived in Greece by sea in July 2015 alone—70 percent more than the number of arrivals the previous month—and calls for an “urgent Greek and European response.”
August 7, 2015: Chaos on Greek islands
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says his cash-strapped country can’t accommodate the thousands of arriving migrants and refugees. Tsipras asks the EU for financial aid, arguing that the crisis is not just a Greek problem, but a European one. The UNHCR calls on Greece to take control of the “total chaos” on its islands calling the situation totally shameful.
August 10, 2015: EU Pledges US$2.4 billion The EU Commission approves 2.6 billion dollars of aid over six years to countries dealing with large numbers of refugees, such as Italy and Greece.
August 20-22, 2015: State of emergency in Macedonia
Macedonia allows thousands of refugees coming from Greece to enter the country so that they can continue north through Serbia and Hungary into Western Europe. Macedonia declares a state of emergency after almost 39,000 refugees pass through its territory in August alone.
August 26, 2015: Borders Balkan countries overwhelmed
Large numbers of refugees, many from Syria and Afghanistan have been overwhelming border authorities in several Balkan countries as they try to reach Western Europe.
August 27, 2015: Bodies found in refrigerated truck
In Austria, the bodies of 71 Syrians, including four children, are found in an abandoned refrigerated truck on a highway from Budapest Hungary, to Vienna, Austria. Europol, the EU’s policing body, notes it has opened 1,400 new human smuggling cases and identified almost 30,000 suspected human smugglers in 2015 alone.
September 1, 2015: Refugees outnumber residents in Lesvos
The number of refugees arriving in Lesbos from Turkey officially exceeds the island’s resident population, Lesbos Mayor Spyros Galinos announces. Separately, the UNHCR notes that 300,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean so far, with 200,000 going to Greece and 110,000 to Italy.
Sept 1-2, 2015: Hungarian police cracks down on refugees
Hungarian police close the Keleti train station in Budapest, Hungary, preventing hundreds of people from boarding trains headed for Germany and Austria and leaving them to camp outside the station. Hundreds of refugees are transported to temporary refugee camps where conditions are abysmal, Human Rights Watch says.
September 2, 2015: Photograph Alan Kurdi goes viral
Pictures of three-year-old Alan Kurdi from Kobani, drowned in his family’s attempt to reach Greece from Turkey, provoke a wave of public sympathy for refugees. Alan’s brother and mother, along with at least nine other people, also perished in the tragedy.
September 3, 2015: Public pressure to welcome refugees rises
The slogan ‘refugees welcome’ goes viral; 250,000 people in 48 hours back an “Independent” petition calling for Britain to take its fair share of refugees. Mr. Cameron says Britain will fulfill its ‘moral responsibilities’.
September 3, 2015: Budapest reopens train station
Budapest reopens its main station after a two-day closure. Hundreds board trains for the Austrian border; others set off for Germany on foot.
September 4, 2015: Refugees march from Budapest to Vienna
An estimated 1,200 refugees embark on a 150 mile march on foot from Budapest, Hungary, to Vienna Austria, after being blocked from taking westbound trains. Austria and Germany announce that they will allow the refugees past their borders in a one-off emergency measure.
September 6, 2015: Pope Francis: Take in Refugees
Pope Francis announces that the Vatican’s two parishes will be welcoming refugees and urges each Catholic parish and religious community to take in a refugee family.
September 7, 2015: New pledges EU
Cameron says Britain will take in an extra 20,000 refugees over five years. France agrees to take 24,000. Germany earmarks 6 billion euros to help an expected 800,000 extra refugees.
September 9, 2015: EU member states have to do more
Mr Juncker urges EU member states to take in an additional 120,000 refugees (bringing the total to 160,000), to be distributed on a quota basis. German Chancellor Angela Merkel calls the move “an important first step” but warns that the plan to take in 160,000 refugees may not be enough.
September 13, 2015: Emergency border control Germany
Germany introduces emergency controls on its borders with Austria, temporarily suspending its Schengen obligations; officials say 63,000 refugees have arrived since the end of August.
September 14, 2015: Borders tighten
Austria, Slovakia, and the Netherlands say they too are reintroducing border controls. Hungary declares a state of emergency and threatens those who enter the country illegally with jail.
September 14, 2015: The EU falls short
The European Council agrees, in principle to relocate 160,000 refugees across EU member states, but Slovakia and the Czech Republic still vehemently oppose the deal. Discussions about quotas for each country are not finished and details for relocation have not yet been worked out.
September 14, 2015: One million refugees Germany
German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel says Germany is expecting one million asylum seekers in 2015.
September 20 2015: U.S. Vows to take in 100,000 refugees
US Secretary of State John Kerry announces that the US will take in 100,000 refugees (worldwide) by 2017. Kerry says the US can’t take in more refugees because of a lack of funding from Congress and the need to retain high levels of post Sept. 11 security checks on people entering the country.
September 23, 2015: $1.1 Billion more EU funding
EU leaders agree to give at least one billion euros in new funding to agencies aiding refugees, such as UNHCR and the World Food Program
October 16, 2015: Hungary closes border with Croatia
Hungary has closed its border with Croatia to refugees in a bid to divert their route to northern Europe.
November 5, 2015: EU three million more people to arrive by 2017
The EU’s executive commission predicts that three million more refugees could arrive on the continent by the end of 2016.
November 11, 2015: More fences erected on European borders
Slovenia starts building a razor wire fence along parts of its border with Croatia to clamp down on the number of refugees entering the country.
November 13, 2015: Austrian government decides to build fence
Austrian officials announce that it will build a 2.5 mile long fence along its busiest border crossing with Slovenia to enable a more “orderly entry” and sorting refugees per nationalities.
November 19, 2015: Borders closed to most nationalities
Countries including Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia shut borders to people coming from countries that aren’t tormented by war. As a result, thousands of people are stuck in no man’s land outside of countries’ borders.
December 22, 2015: More than 1 million refugees
Out of 1,005,504 refugees that arrived by 21 December, 816,752 arrived by sea in Greece, says the International Organization for Migration. 3,771 people died trying to cross the Mediterranean.
January 10, 2016: Syrians starving in Madaya
Médecins Sans Frontières says that at least 28 people, including six babies have died from hunger-related causes in their clinic in Madaya, a town near the Lebanese border. About 400,000 Syrians, who are trapped behind front lines, are denied access to food and medicine.
January 12, 2016: Germany sends refugees back to Austria
Germany has been refusing an increasing number of migrants at its southern border, Austrian authorities say. Hundreds of migrants have been sent back to Austria, from where many are trying to find new routes to Germany.
January 15, 2016: Austria joins Germany in sending back refugees
Austria announces that it will begin to refuse entry to refugees who seek to pass through to Scandinavia. Following Germany’s lead, Vienna plans to send as many refugees as possible back to its southern border.
January 29, 2016: 52000 refugees arrived in January 2015
According to IOM (International Organization for Migration) 52000 refugees arrived on Greek Islands since beginning of the new year and more than 240 died.
January 30, 2016: Austria introduces caps
Austrian officials have announced that – like in other countries – caps will be introduced to control the maximum number of incoming refugees per month. Additionally, tens of thousands of refugees should be sent back to their countries of origin until 2019.
February 2, 2016: Women and children now majority
The number of women and children seeking safety in Europe has overtaken the number of men for the first time since the refugee crisis began, says Unicef.
February 3, 2016: Europe is struggling to respond
To date, donor countries have fallen short of the requirements set down by the UN, says UNCHR, which has only received 61 percent of the target amount of $4.3 billion.