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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth


In a report at a NATO conference in late 2011, John Sokolowski, executive director of Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC), used modeling and simulation to accurately predict the number of refugees that would ultimately be displaced by the ongoing insurrection in Syria.

Calibrating the model and verifying its findings with United Nations reports of displaced Syrians validates the design and capability of the model.

Sokolowski served on expert M&S panels at the NATO CAX Multiconference and I3M Multiconference in Rome, Italy, from Sept. 12-14, 2011.

As events involving displaced populations from the Syrian civil war have unfolded as the model predicted, Sokolowski and colleague Catherine Banks, research associate professor at VMASC, are now developing an expanded model to represent all categories of displaced populations - from refuges, to asylum seekers, to stateless people. Their goal is to create a Population Displacement Model that can be used to assess the movement of individuals triggered by any event, based on numerous factors.

The researchers contend that modeling and simulation, with its ability to anticipate needs and proffer strategy, is the most purposeful way to analyze and respond to the complex phenomenon of population displacement.

Their first objective is to create a Population Displacement Index, which could be used by governments, relief agencies and other affected groups to mitigate, anticipate and/or aid any type of population migration. "From a logistics and care standpoint, it's important to understand the magnitude of people likely to be displaced by a particular event," Sokolowski said.

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