UN: Half a million Syrians displaced by war return home in 2017

UN: Half a million Syrians displaced by war return home in 2017
'Significant trend' noted as hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrians return home amid a drop in the overall level of violence in their home country.
2 min read
01 July, 2017
UN officials warned that a 'grave' situation still faces many Syrians [AFP]

Around 500,000 Syrians who were displaced from their homes by war have returned to their homes, the UN's refugee agency said on Friday. 

Estimates by aid agencies say that over 440,000 internally displaced people and a further 31,000 refugees who travelled abroad have returned home.

UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic described the return as a "significant trend, and a significant number" but cautioned that this was "only a fraction" of an estimated 5 million Syrian refugees.

Most of the returnees have gone back to Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Damascus and other governorates, Mahecic added, saying that they may have gone back to "a real or perceived improvement in security conditions".

Earlier this week, UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura highlighted a fall in the overall levels of violence in Syria.

Despite this, the international body has still warned of the serious humanitarian situation facing many Syrians, with Kevin Kennedy, the UN regional humanitarian co-ordinator for Syria, stressing that just under 14 million of the country's current population of 18 million "remain in grave difficulty" and reliant on humanitarian aid.

"That's 70-75 per cent of the population," he said.

Kennedy told reporters at the UN's New York headquarters that over a third of Syria's people are displaced within the country, while around 5 million Syrians have fled mainly to neighbouring Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

He added that 4.5 million people are trapped in besieged or hard-to-reach areas and "are in the most desperate need" of aid.