GEOSPEX Custom Banner

GEOSPEX | geospatial analysis | urban planning | environmental issues

Syrian Displacement Camps- rapid formation as urban ‘growth’

While the Syrian Civil War rages on, millions of Syrians have been displaced both within and outside the country. Its a nearly unprecedented displacement; the spatial result resembling full-fledged, full-formed cities in their own right. Among these DP (displaced persons) camps, Zaatari is arguably the best known due to its massive scale and organization. An excellent overview report of ‘The Instant City’ is available from the Affordable Housing Institute which details the camp’s social and built infrastructure. From the NY Times, the camp/city’s ‘grassroots economy’ is considered.

Beyond the social and civil ramifications of this displacement, the camp/city’s spatial ‘reorganization’ viewed from afar is nothing less than throughly alarming. The DP camps that are emerging from the crisis are unprecedented and atypical- they have become a new form of urban growth. As beneficial as research efforts such as NYU Stern’s Planet of Cities are at cataloging urban growth through innovative methodologies, the speed and scale of the emerging era of DP camps may prove an ultimate challenge to both academic research and the urban planning field.

Considering three of the Syrian DP camps- Zaatari, Killis & Mrajeeb Al Fhood, each camp’s unique formation is easily captured through Google Earth Imagery. Belllingcat journalism has a post referring to the process. Further in the case of Zaatari, the ‘city’ is now featured part and parcel in select map engines; certainly in Open Street Map.

[OSM Coverage- Zaatari DP Camp]

Mapping lat/Long of each of the three camps reveals another shared characteristic- they all maintain some proximity to more ‘normal’ urban centers and typical urban growth patterns. In this way, they are one with global, urban sprawl patterns but with one critical caveat: this is a growth pattern not of dispersion but of intense concentration- suburbia’s alter ego, so to speak.

To follow: each camp’s Lat/long mapped in proximity to urban centers, and a Google Earth imagery composite of the camp’s rapid emergence:

zataari_overview[Zaatari Displacement Camp]

[Zaatari Displacement Camp]

Zaatari Camp Expansion- Circa 2013 via Google Earth Imagery ]

killis_overviewKillis Displacement Camp ]

[Killis Displacement Camp]

Kilis Oncupinar Accommodation Facility Expansion- Circa 2013 via Google Earth Imagery ]

azraq_overviewAzraq DP Camp ]

[Azraq displacement camp]

Al_AZRAQ_smAzraq displacement camp ]