The Syrian Refugee Crisis

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The Syrian Refugee Crisis on Social Media2 Schedule A Demo TodayIntroductionSince the crisis of the Syrian Civil War began in 2011, millions of people have been displaced and well over four million refugees have left their war-torn country, fleeing predominantly to neighbouring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, as well as across several European Union countries. To put into context the difficulties facing refugees fleeing the violence and collapsed infrastructure in Syria, this Google Maps perspective of a refugees journey from Aleppo, Syria to Horgos, Serbia shows a 452 hour (50 day) journey, walked, covering over 1,400 miles.ContentsIntroductionEuropean ResponseWho is talking about the refugee crisis on social?Arab ResponseConclusion28121623 Schedule A Demo TodayThe Syrian refugee situation is one the biggest and toughest humanitarian crisis faced today, with more than twelve million people directly affected and many more influenced around the world. At Crimson Hexagon and with recently acquired partner in the UAE, E-Nor, we look to measure the worlds response to a rapidly deteriorating situation using insights derived from the largest source of raw and unsolicited opinion - social media.In this report we investigate the European and Middle Eastern social media reaction to the crisis.Through our Twitter partnership we have been able to access historical data from the start of the Syrian crisis. The analysis is conducted with Crimson Hexagons unique language agnostic capabilities, looking for patterns and training our algorithm on posts and mentions of the crisis. At first glance, swings in perceived sentiment for and against refugees seem like an insurmountable challenge to measure and analyse. However, deeper analysis of social media can show potential ways forward and solutions.Since the uprising of the Syrian Civil War and first instances of refugees fleeing the country in 2011, to the end of 2015, there have been over 20 million posts1 in English on Twitter alone, globally, in relation to the crisis. 70% of these posts mention refugees. The largest number of posts sourced from Europe came from the UK, Turkey, France, and Germany, and from the Arab countries Lebanon, Egypt, and United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.Notably, when compared to the collective total of all posts since the start of the civil war, over 60% of those posts mentioning refugees in relation to the Syrian crisis occurred between September-December 2015. If we look at the timeline, we see two incidents contributed to this substantial increase in posts. Firstly, the emergence of the photograph of three-year-old Aylan Al-Kurdis drowned body on a Turkish shore on the 2nd of September, 2015, and secondly, the coordinated terrorist in Paris France on the 13th of November, 2015. 1 Query measuring varying mentions of the Syrian Civil War and refugees, including mentions of Bashar Al-Assad and major Syrian cities in relation to the war/crisis and incorrect use of terms such as migrants and immigrants. Schedule A Demo TodayThe image of Aylan Al-Kurdi caused grave international concern and a harsh awareness of the terrible reality of the crisis. To an optimist, the huge level of activity following the tragedy indicates a raised awareness among the global communities of the crisis in Syria and an increased desire to find a resolution. Meanwhile, the second sharp rise in mentions following the Paris attacks could be more pessimistically perceived as associated with dissipating sympathies due to the attacks being initially linked directly to Syrian refugees. Ultimately, the reality of the above is that there are highly complex and varying emotions at play in both situations. By capitalising on the insights derived from social data, we are able to more accurately measure the conversations around the crisis in increased detail.Using street-level geolocation on all Syrian Twitter accounts reveals a powerfully poignant snapshot of the mass movement of Syrians into Turkey. The illustration clearly portrays the number of Syrian refugees displaced into Turkey by the conflict.Mentions of refugees in relation to the Syrian Civil War in 2015.Feb 2015Total VolumeJun 2015 Aug 2015 Oct 2015Apr 20152M1M Schedule A Demo TodayIn March 2015, we noted a 55% decline in overall Twitter usage in Syria - which is clearly no coincidence given the exodus. The remaining Twitter users in Syria top conversations appear to center around what they fear losing the most and communicating with the outside world.Syrian Twitter accounts in huge numbers shown in Turkey during the height of the crisis. Schedule A Demo TodayLooking closely at the two most populated Syrian cities, heavily-destructured Aleppo and the capital Damascus, reveals a dissipated and almost desolate level of activity.Twitter activity in Aleppo, Syrias most populated city prior to the conflict, and Damascus, the capital. Schedule A Demo TodayA quick look at the authors breakdown on Twitter also offers a nugget of insight. There are over 5000 daily authors and rising, but the average posts per author never exceeds two. So this is clearly a matter discussed by a large, critical mass of people, rather than a handful of dedicated accounts.Breakdown of daily Twitter authors mentioning the refugee crisis and average number of posts per author.Daily Twitter authorsAug 20158k7k6k5k4k3k2k1k11 12 13 14 15 16 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 1 2 317129kAverage posts / author few crises within the European Union in recent years can rival the magnitude and supranational nature of the Syrian refugee crisis. In this section we look into the European response on social media over the last five years.European Response9 Schedule A Demo TodayThe above illustration shows an aggregate analysis of English language posts across Europe. Here we reveal a number of key themes to explore. We demonstrate the invaluable ability that social analytics has in scaling the level of nuance that a complex political problem carries. By tapping into historical data, we are able to decipher if there was a shift in mood relating to the crisis, where/if a shift in opinion occurred, and what might have influenced this evolution - as particularly exhibited following the image of Aylan Al-Kurdi and in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks.Twitter activity in Europe in 2015 Schedule A Demo TodayIn this analysis, the breakdown of English posts sourced from Europe is displayed from the first year of the war in Syria into the emergence of the refugee crisis on European shores until December 2015. Neutral news sharing (25%), positive initiatives (31%) and concern about the numbers of refugees arriving (31%) collectively hold 87% of conversation over the five years.Restricting timeframes and highlighting conversation immediately following the death of Aylan Al-Kurdi and the Paris terror attacks respectively, allows us to highlight how sentiment substantially shifted.Conversation analysis, English posts in European countries (2011-2015) Schedule A Demo TodayPositvive initiativesAylan Al - Kurdi Paris Attacks40%35%30%25%20%15%10%5%0%45%Concern of BacklashMeasuring sentiment in the month prior to the emergence of the Aylan Al-Kurdi image allows us to isolate and compare the analysis again. As displayed in the illustration above to the right, we indicate the 722% increase in conversation, with news sharing, positive initiatives and concern over numbers of refugees displaced collectively hold 87% of conversation. Going on to combine the insights obtained from the breakdown of sentiment towards the crisis to geographical insights using geo-tagging methodology allows us to go further - and understand if certain regions, on average, have a collectively higher social involvement with the refugee crisis. Conversation sentiment shift following image of Aylan Al-Kurdi and Paris Terror AttacksConversational analysis in August 2015 and early September 2015 Schedule A Demo TodayTwitter activity in the UK and other parts of EuropeProceeding to cluster this geographical data, according to urban and rural areas, and even overlaying constituencies and other known demographics, can help policymakers understand how citizens feel towards the crisis. is predictable, and expected, that people will respond to major tragic events. It is important though, to see which part of peoples interests and affinities could be driving their involvement, making some people more engaged than others. It also gives a wider perspective on the communities involved and - crucially in this case - an indication into where they get their information and how they are likely to digest it.By tapping into the capabilities of social insights further, we are able to provide a view on social media authors, measuring and displaying the active and passive interests people consistently have in their digital lives. Who is talking about the refugee crisis on social?14 Schedule A Demo TodayLawHuman RightsImigrationIndiaBBCFeminismDavid CameronBritish National PartyManagement Science and TechnologyIslamSoccer BasketballHealthAppleWritingCNN InstabulIsraelMental HealthThis Side Interests This Side InterestsOn the chart below, these interests are displayed for the people participating in the conversation on the refugee crisis compared to the average Twitter user, which acts as a control group in this case. On the left, we can see the interests people who talk about the refugee crisis on Twitter: Human Rights, Law, Immigration, Feminism. On the right, we see the things that are least likely to interest these Twitter users: Basketball, Soccer. The immediate conclusion that jumps out here is that while these individuals may be very well connected and informed about human rights and various kinds of activism, the topic of Islam seems to lie relatively far outside their interests comfort zone.Casting the net globally, social data can offer us insights into how particular communities prefer to communicate, and what kind of content organically emerges from their exchanges. Looking at both the segment of people with an interest in Immigration, and those actively and passively following news on the European Union we identify one common interest: both very strongly index on sharing articles as their preferred social media content, rather than photos or hashtags. It is how they build the credibility of their opinions and state their requirement to have objective information back up any discussion.Affinities analysis, highlighting the interests of those talking about the Syrian crisis to the rest of Twitter. Schedule A Demo TodayGlobal community with an active or passive interest in immigration. Delving deeper into what interests people who talk about the refugee crisis have on social, we also obtain other insights, such as how many posts they publish, what kind of posts and how this compares to the rest of Twitter as a benchmark.Post VolumeAug 09 Aug 16 Aug 23 Aug 30 Sep 0610 K8 K6 K4 K2 K0European Union and Immigration interests breakdownPost MetricsRetweetRetweet40.2%16.5%27.3%1.9%4.6%22.8%1.5 x1.1 x1.0 x1.0 x0.6 x21.2 xTwitterReplyReplyHashtagHashtagVideoVideoPhotoPhotoArticleArticleRelative to Twitter Overall are multiple sides to every story, and this is no exception. In addition to the European sentiment towards the refugee crisis, Crimson Hexagons partners in UAE, E-Nor, carried out a regional Twitter analysis in Arabic. Arabic Response17 Schedule A Demo TodayThe following illustration displays an analysis of Arabic language posts across the five years of the crisis, once again categorising conversation into a number of key themes to explore.Conversation analysis, Arabic posts (2011-2015)Arabic posts world cloudTaking Sides: Blaming ISIS (114,239)Taking Sides: Blaming Syrian gov and their allies (125,784)Taking Sides: Blaming Syrian uprising/Criticizing opposition (82,696)Positive: Emotional appeal/Symathy/Supplications/Prayers (209,036)Positive: Positive initiative and support (461,827)Negative: Negative response towards refugees (72,567)Positive: Acknowledging/ Thanking Europe for refugee support (28,142)Positive: Wishing Arab Gov & Media to do more (100,155) Positive: Wishing Europe to do more (44,295) Neutral: Sharing news (93,533) Schedule A Demo TodayWe are able to gain a top line understanding of the Arabic perception of the refugee crisis by grouping conversation into four overarching themes:Secondly, by accessing historical data in this way and isolating opinions into categories, we are able to highlight peaks in conversation and shifts in sentiment once more.The vast majority of online conversation is that of positivity, seeking initiatives and support and giving sympathy and prayers to the refugees affected throughout the crisis. There is a fairly equal split amongst those taking sides, with the most prevalent opinion in this group that of blaming the Syrian government and their allies for the crisis.Throughout the Syrian refugee crisis, there have been four clear and specific spikes in conversation, mostly increasing the proportion of positive sentiment. Taking Sides Positive Responses Negative Responses Neutral PositioningBe Merciful Campaign raised 180 million Emirati Dirham. We look forward to more contributions for refugees. Schedule A Demo TodayInterior Minister adopted a project to distribute heating fuel for displaced Syrians in Lebanon at a cost of 9 million Saudi Riyal. #KSACant this nation provide a safe harbour and minimum necessary standards for the Syrian refugees in Arsal, Zaatari and other refugee camps?January 10, 2013Cold winter months call for added hardships. During this time, severe winter conditions in the region brought a food shortage and new difficulties for those displaced in Syria and for the refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. However, Saudi Arabia boosted its food, clothing and other supplies to these refugees in response to the United Nations appeal for more assistance. Close to 45% of the conversations at this time were sourced from Saudi Arabia, with the remainder from neighboring Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.December 2013 brought the harshest winter in a century. As conditions worsened, the Syrian refugee count, sheltered in Lebanon alone, was at 800,000. News spread that an additional 80,000 refugees will be spending the winter in tents and make-shift enclosures, while many others continued to battle the elements in unfinished or unheated building with little more protection. At this time, the most engaged audience is also from GCC countries. December 11, 2013 Schedule A Demo TodayJanuary 6, 2015September 3, 2015 - Image of Aylan Al-KurdiTwo years later, the primary audience is again those concerned from GCC countries. There is sympathy towards the Syrian refugees, as news of severe winter weather hits encampment. Within these Syrian neighboring countries, settlements see flooding and tents collapsing. Forging refugees are left shivering in the cold with increased chances of illness and death.The largest number of Tweets are from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt, amounting to 64% of total conversation on this day. There is acknowledgement for Turkey for hosting more than 1 million refugees, as plans are underway for them to host an additional 1 million. Germany is overwhelmed by public donations for migrants at Munichs main train station, as German police Tweet about the efforts in aiding Syrian refugees.Im having flashbacks from refugees life in Syria and Iraq. In the midst of cold winter, tents from fabric or plastic are uprooted by strong winds. Low morale, poverty and vagrancy.Europe breaks its silence in the aftermath of the toddler drowned body, Al-Kurdi, whereas we have not seen adequate Arab reaction. Schedule A Demo TodayIn the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks, criticism of ISIS expectedly increased within the Arab world, as highlighted in the analysis below. Throughout the social realm, many expressed greater fear of increasing hostility towards Syrian refugees in Europe. Concern over safety and adverse feelings continued to expand following this attack.Sentiment against the Syrian regime and their allies such as Iran have continued to rise and many began to view ISIS as a tool for Syria. Allegations grew across social media, with many accusing Syria and Iran of coordinating the attack with ISIS. Many circulated a flashback video dating to the first year of the Syrian uprising. The video, which originally aired on the Syrian News Channel, shows what appears to be the Grand Mufti of Syria, a firm supporter of the president, threatening to activate suicide bombers in Europe and the United States if Syria was attacked by external powers.November 13, 2015 - Paris Terror AttacksConversation analysis, Arabic posts, after the Paris Terror AttacksSyrian Refugees Crisis (AR): Blaming ISIS (17%)Nov 201513 2519 20 21 22 23 24181716151412Percent by Category10%10%10%10%10%10%10%Syrian Refugees Crisis (AR): Blaming Syrian GOV and their Allies (17%)Syrian Refugees Crisis (AR): Blaming Syrian uprasing/Criticizing opposition (2%)17%17%2%Syrian Refugees Crisis (AR): Blaming ISIS Syrian Refugees Crisis (AR): Blaming Syrian GOV and their Allies Syrian Refugees Crisis (AR): Blaming Syrian uprasing/ Criticizing opposition Schedule A Demo TodayA message to ISIS in regard of Paris Bombing. It was against everyone that supports the Syrian Uprising. It was against everyone that welcomed Syrian refugees. In short, it was against those opposing Iran.Iran does not want the world to welcome its victims of Syrian refugees. Iran wants Europe to blame Syrian refugees for terrorism so it instigated ISIS to attack Europe.Syria Grand Mufti, Ahmad Hassoun, threatens Paris, France with suicide missions. this analysis we have also shown both the conversation in both Europe and the Middle East, and seen similarities in the depth and desire to help those displaced by war. At Crimson Hexagon, in the meantime, we will aspire to do more than count and autostamp these conversations for sentiment. Our platform seeks to respect the nuance of human conversations, and preserve their richness towards real understanding. Crimson Hexagon, Inc. All rights reserved.crimsonhexagon.com


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