Assessing the impact of urban Syrian refugees on the urban fabric of Al Mafraq city architecturally and socially
International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment
Article publication date: 27 June 2019
Issue publication date: 9 September 2019
The purpose of this paper is to explore the direct and indirect impacts of urban Syrian refugees on the residential urban fabric of Al Mafraq city physically and socially. Physically means regarding architectural style and socially means regarding social cohesion and sense of community. Therefore, the research questions are: What are the main source of tensions between the urban Syrian refugees and Al Mafraq host community that hinders the social cohesion? And what is the impact of the urban Syrian refugees on Al Mafraq city socially and architecturally?
Different research methods were used to explore and provide a rich description of the direct and indirect impacts of urban Syrian refugees on Al Mafraq city architecturally and socially. Desk reviews, focus group discussions and semi-structured individual in-depth interviews were used to explore the social impact of the Syrian refugees on Al Mafraq city. In addition, a qualitative comparative analysis was used to explore their impact on architectural style and urban sprawl.
The results show that changes have occurred on the character of the residential environment resulting in a conversion about the urban fabric of Al Mafraq city both physically, in regard to architectural style, and socially, regarding social cohesion and sense of community. Physically, the city suffers from a decline in the uniformity of the built environment, resulting in a partial loss of its identity as a homogenous place with calm, cohesive residential neighborhoods. On the other hand, the social fabric of the city is losing its homogeneity and solidarity, causing a decline in the sense of community, social cohesion and levels of trust, and a rise in the social tension leading to severe conflicts among community members.
The different stakeholders should express high concern for the different sources of tensions between the urban Syrian refugee and Al Mafraq host community. They should foster formal and informal communication and promote dialogue between the two communities to improve social relations and reduce the tension between them. The consequences of Syrian asylum on hosting countries present an issue that has been vastly studied by several scholars and international agencies. Research, reports and surveys all denote the negative impact of refugees, especially in cases where resources are scarce, as is the case with Jordan. As a part of such consequences, Al Mafraq city is moving in the wrong direction as a result of the increasing flow of refugees.
The current discourse about the influence of urban refugees on social and architectural style among host communities lacks veracity. Therefore, the significance of this research is offering an alternative academic view to enrich current knowledge and encourage further discourse research about urban refugees. In addition, this research is a comprehensive and double focused, not just on social inclusion and tensions but on urban environment and architecture. This research is useful for architects, urban designers and planners, sociologists, policymakers and humanitarian and peace-building practitioners in the urban non-camp complex emergency setting.
Alhusban, A.A., Alhusban, S.A. and Al-Betawi, Y.N. (2018), "Assessing the impact of urban Syrian refugees on the urban fabric of Al Mafraq city architecturally and socially", International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Vol. 10 No. 2/3, pp. 99-129. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJDRBE-09-2018-0039
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