Almost half of Syrians would choose to permanently leave their country if they could, according to a Gallup survey released Monday.
Forty-six percent want to leave, and just 1 in 3 would choose to remain in Syria, says the survey that was conducted earlier this year. Forty-three percent of the Syrians Gallup surveyed in person also said it was likely that they would leave the country in the next 12 months. Thirty-two percent of the country was not surveyed as a result of destruction, vacancy or security issues preventing pollsters from reaching people.
The results are relatively unchanged from a Gallup poll conducted two years ago, which also excluded about one-third of the country, but they do represent a dramatic shift from Gallup polls conducted prior to the war, which began ramping up in 2010 and escalated in 2011.
In 2008, Gallup found that 72 percent of Syrians preferred to remain in their country over an opportunity to leave. Similarly in 2009, 3 in 4 Syrians said they wanted to stay while about 1 in 5 would have opted to leave given the chance. However, as uprisings increased and eventually became a full blown civil war in 2011, that trend reversed and more Syrians than not began to express they wanted to move to another country.
Of those who expressed a desire to move, 39 percent named countries in Europe as their first choice. Thirty-five percent preferred the Middle East and North Africa regions, while 10 percent preferred Asia. And though a combined majority of the world's potential migrants would prefer to emigrate to the U.S. and Canada, only 6 percent of Syrians named the countries as their first choice.
Over 4 million Syrian refugees have fled the country since the start of the civil war, according to the most recent data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Fifty-one percent of Syrian refugees are children aged 17 and under.
Gallup conducted face-to-face interviews with 1,002 adults aged 15 and older in January 2015 in Syria.