IOM staff handing out hygiene kits to Syrians in the outskirts of Damascus. Photo: IOM
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—More than 600,000 Syrian refugees have returned home in the past seven months, says the UN migration agency (IOM), most of them from inside Syria and others from neighboring countries for reasons of saving their properties or improved situation back home.
According to IOM, between January and July 2017, 602,759 displaced Syrians returned home mainly to Aleppo and Al Hasakeh provinces.
The report says that 84 per cent of those who returned home were IDPs inside Syria and the remaining 16 percent returned from Turkey, followed by Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.
The IOM report goes on to say: “An estimated 27 per cent of the returnees stated that they did so to protect their assets or properties and 25 per cent referred to the improved economic situation in their area of origin.”
“Other factors people gave IOM and partners as their reasons for returning included the worsening economic situation in the place where they were seeking refuge (14 per cent), social or cultural issues such as tribal links, political affiliations or any obstacle preventing integration in their area of displacement (11 per cent), and the improvement of the security situation in their area of return (11 per cent).”
Most of the returnees return to Aleppo, following a similar trend from last year. Others returned to such places as Idleb, Hama, Raqqa provinces and the Damascus countryside.
“According to reports, almost all (97 per cent) returned to their own house, 1.8 per cent are living with hosts, 1.4 per cent in abandoned houses, 0.14 per cent in informal settlements and 0.03 per cent in rented accommodation.” IOM reported on Friday.
“Access of returnees to food and household items is 83 per cent and 80 per cent respectively. Access to water (41 per cent) and health services (39 per cent) is dangerously low as the country’s infrastructure has been extremely damaged by the conflict.”
The UN agency says that “IDP returns have mainly been spontaneous but not necessarily voluntary, safe or sustainable. As such, they cannot, at present, be considered within the context of a durable solutions framework.”