Some 82 percent of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries would like to return to their homes if security and service are provided, the Middle East and North Africa Director of UNHCR, the U.N. Refugee Agency, Amin Awad said on Wednesday.
"The conditions for returning are not appropriate and there are too many obstacles and the great destruction we see today in Syria prevents many people from returning to the rescue: 82 percent of the Syrian refugees in neighboring countries say they want to go back if security and service are provided, 10 percent and 6 percent say they will return if they find safe places," Awad said in a press conference at the U.N. headquarters, as reported by Anadolu Agency.
He underscored that since the beginning of this year in Syria, 600,000 internally displaced people returned to cities like Homs and Daraa while only 22,000 Syrian refugees from neighboring countries have returned to the country.
The International Organization for Migration said last month that more than 600,000 displaced Syrians had returned to their homes this year. Most of those who returned were internally displaced, while 16 percent were refugees returning from exile in neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. While some returnees said they were motivated to return due to improved security and economic conditions, the IOM warned that many were struggling to gain access to clean water and health services in a country ravaged by over six years of fighting.
Almost 3 million Syrians have taken refuge in Turkey since the conflict in their country began in 2011, marked by anti-government protests. The border crossings between the two countries are mostly closed, granting access only to aid convoys. Thus, the chance for Syrians to return for eid is a rare opportunity. Turkey is a staunch advocate for the establishment of a safe zone inside Syria for those who have been internally displaced, which would ostensibly prevent attacks by the Assad regime and the Daesh terrorist group, among others. Some headed to towns like al-Bab and Jarablus in Aleppo province, which were formerly the targets of a Turkish-led operation launched in mid-2016 against Daesh. Others crossed into Idlib province, now largely controlled by a group formerly affiliated with al-Qaida.
The unending violence of Syria's civil war, which has killed over 330,000 people, has dropped off in recent months amid the tentative and partial implementation of local ceasefires.