The Syrian conflict has displaced more than 6.1 million persons inside Syria, 5.4 million refugees to its neighbouring countries, and hundreds of thousands in Europe. Between 2014 and 2017, more than 919,000 Syrians applied for asylum in the EU. The integration of refugees into host societies presents a major challenge for many Euro-Med countries today. Reflecting the high share of young persons, defined here as persons aged 15-24 amongst Syrian asylum seekers in Europe there has been a strong focus on young refugees also in respect to the integration of refugees. Despite considerable efforts of receiving countries and some successes in respect to labour market integration of refugees, current research suggests that social integration is challenging and refugees experience social exclusion. This PhD project examines the social integration of young Syrian refugees in Austria, Germany and Jordan. The project consists of three sub-projects, covering three different perspectives on social integration and each resulting in a paper; the first paper sets out to analyse Austrian government policies and practices affecting the social integration of young Syrian refugees. The main focus will be on the development of policy strategies to adapt the asylum and integration system to the high numbers of new arrivals since 2015. The paper will discuss the challenges and areas of improvement of the existing policy frameworks, in support of better social integration of the Syrian refugee youth cohort. The aim of the second paper is to analyze the link between feelings of belonging and the mental health and well-being of young Syrian (Youth) refugees in their new settings in Austria and Germany, and the role various actors such as the local government and civil society play in influencing this relationship. The third paper will look at the role of extra-curricular activities, and how these can be used as a tool for successful social integration. Specifically, I will examine how engaging in music activities contribute in achieving a successful social integration in big urban cities; the aim is to do a comparative study between Vienna, Berlin and Amman (as a non-EU context). Drawing on Ager & Strang’s conceptual framework of integration, I aim to generate some insights on the successfulness of integration of these young refugees, particularly in the above-mentioned contexts. The research will adopt mixed methods, drawing on already existing data sets, data generated from the focus-group instrument will be used to corroborate and expand on previously collected data and to help explain the survey’s findings. I also aim to conduct focus groups and observe to provide context for survey data, plan and distribute surveys, carry out in-depth interviews with some of the participants (young refugees) as well as experts in the field. The results of the above-mentioned methods will then be presented separately in the different papers and integrated into the discussion section. In addition, I will also refer to secondary research on academic articles and textbooks in relation to the integration of refugees.


Duration 01/11/2019 - 30/04/2023
Funding Bundesländer (inkl. deren Stiftungen und Einrichtungen)

Department for Migration and Globalisation

Center for Global Competences

Principle investigator for the project (University for Continuing Education Krems) Univ.-Prof. Dr. Mathias Czaika
Project members
Christina Khoury, M.A.


Zardo, F.; Rössl, L.; Khoury, C. (2023). Adapting to Crisis: The Governance of Public Services for Migrants and Refugees during COVID-19 in Four European Cities. social sciences, 2023, 12(4): 213 ff.


Mental well-being, belonging and social integration of Syrian refugees in Austria

7th Biennial Conference on Migration Research in Austria, 26/09/2022

Measures for a more successful social integration of young Syrian refugees into host societies: A comparative study of the social integration and sense of belonging of Syrian refugee youth in Aus

IMISCOE 2021, 27/09/2021

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