Using scenarios to forecast outcomes of a refugee crisis

Wicke, Lars and Dhami, Mandeep K. and Önkal, Dilek and Belton, Ian K. (2019) Using scenarios to forecast outcomes of a refugee crisis. International Journal of Forecasting. ISSN 0169-2070 (

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The Syrian civil war has led to millions of Syrians fleeing the country, and has resulted in a humanitarian crisis. By considering how such socio-political events may unfold, scenarios can lead to informed forecasts that can be used for decision-making. We examined the relationship between scenarios and forecasts in the context of the Syrian refugee crisis. Forty Turkish students who had been trained to use a brainstorming technique generated scenarios that might follow within six months of the Turkish government banning Syrian refugees from entering the country. The participants generated 3–6 scenarios. Over half were rated as ‘high’ quality in terms of completeness, relevance/pertinence, plausibility, coherence, and transparency (order effects). The scenario quality was unaffected by the scenario quantity. Even though no forecasts were requested, the participants’ first scenarios contained 0–17 forecasts. The mean forecast accuracy was 45%, and this was unaffected by the forecast quantity. Therefore, brainstorming can offer a simple and quick way of generating scenarios and forecasts that can potentially help decision-makers to tackle humanitarian crises.


Wicke, Lars, Dhami, Mandeep K., Önkal, Dilek and Belton, Ian K. ORCID logoORCID:;