This paper adopts a transdisciplinary approach across the social sciences to investigate the political and socioeconomic impact of the Syrian refugees on Lebanon and Jordan — Syria’s direct Arab neighbours — and these countries’ coping mechanisms. In the first place, Beaujouan and Rasheed investigate the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on Jordan and Lebanon at three different levels: the state (government), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based organisations (CBOs), and local populations. The Syrian refugee crisis had a sharp but diverse effect on these three sets of actors in both Jordan and Lebanon and each level provides a different, yet complementary, analysis of the humanitarian crisis. In the second place, the authors review and assess the role of host governments, the international community, and the humanitarian stakeholders in shaping perceptions toward the Syrian refugee crisis in the two countries. Finally, by shedding light on the reality and consequences of humanitarian crises in developing countries, the authors draw lessons learned from Jordan and Lebanon. Beyond the Syrian crisis and the Middle East, those lessons are applicable to other countries or regions confronted with a similar human exodus.