More than five million Syrians have left their country since the war started in 2011.They want to go home but with the war showing no end in sight, they’re stuck in the middle. They’ve endured a civil war, an invasion by the Islamic State, then combat to drive ISIS from their borders, now an invasion from the Turks. Where have they all gone?

Most are now in neighboring countries, with about 3.5 million in Turkey and one million in Lebanon. More than half a million traveled to Germany, with smaller numbers in other European nations.

To find out what changes they hope for, the Carnegie Middle East Center held a series of meetings involving about 320 refugees in Lebanon and Jordan.

Here are four things they told us they would like to see.

  1. Safety for their children
  2. An end to conscription
  3. Homes to return to
  4. Safety and security

Kholoud, a refguee from rural Damascus summed up her feelings: “If Bashar al-Assad is removed and there is security in Syria, even if there is no food or drink, we would get flour and make it with our hands.”

Many also expressed concern over the presence of various armed foreign groups in the country and the general lawlessness that they represent.

Many also spoke of a Syria that strived for new values, including freedom, equality, and justice, in a country that is democratically governed under the rule of law.

The displaced Syrians wanted their concerns to be heard.

As one young refugee said: “We want a solution that will give us back our dignity – no more, no less.”

But what stands out, even among the refugees is that they know, nor will they accept a country that is fragmented. Split into small enclaves ruled by different factions. The only Syria will be a united one, so the fighting will continue.

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Photo courtesy Wikipedia

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