The Conflict in Syria has led to a mass exodus from one of the most densely populated regions of the country.Conflict has led to a mass exodus from one of the most densely populated regions of the country. Three quarters of the four million inhabitants of the Orontes basin have been displaced during the past three years. Some of these displaced populations have returned to their areas of residence after hostilities ended. Some have been forced to shift, according to the changing locations of clashes or have moved due to the depletion of their resources. In some cases, such as the Al Qusayr district, inhabitants fled to the Qalamoun region. But moving combat zones have led to a second -- and sometimes third -- exodus, within a few months, with no possibility of returning to their home villages.
The map shows a zoning of the basin based on proportion of displaced people and the main hosting areas. In February 2014, about 1.6 million people from the Orontes basin are displaced and have found refuge in Syria, or in neighboring countries - mainly in Lebanon and Turkey. The most affected areas were emptied of almost all their population on account of fighting or bombing, or because they were expelled from districts declared as military zone to prevent the return of the population. The two main military zones were established in strategic sectors of the Qatinah and Al Qusayr districts, comprising a large irrigation scheme and located close to the Lebanese border, and to the north of An Nabk.
The main hosting areas under control of opposition forces are located in the north, in the districts of Afrin, Harim, Kafr Takharim, Salqin, Ad Dana al Atarib, and Dar Ta`Izzah, hosting areas are also found in the districts of Ma'arr Dibsah and Ahsim, north of Ma'arrat an Nu'man, where refugees mainly come from the Orontes basin, and south in the Assal al Ward district. The latter area is currently threatened by the ongoing offensive of pro-government forces on the city of Yabruk. The two main hosting areas controlled by the regime are the Salamiyah district and the outskirts of the city of Hama. The villages of Akkum and Daminah al Gharbiyah, located on either side of the military zone of Al Qusayr, host, displaced populations from neighboring villages whose population has been expelled.
Population displacements have profoundly altered the geographical distribution of the population by draining high density areas located in the center of the basin while greatly increasing the population in the peripheral areas ill-equipped to handle large flows of refugees.