Nearly half a million Syrians have returned to their homes so far this year due to a perceived improvement in security in some of the country’s war torn cities.
Some 440,000 have returned to their homes from other places in Syria while another 31,000 have returned from neighbouring countries, the United Nations refugee agency said on June 30.
“This is a significant trend and a significant number,” said Andrej Mahecic, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Most returned to Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Damascus, the agency said. It was not clear how many planned to stay permanently after returning.
“Most of these people are returning to check on their properties, to find out about the family members. This is what we know from some of the evidence that we have gathered,” said Mahecic.
The UNHCR has not been facilitating the return of refugees over concerns about the security concern in many parts of the country.
But that has not stopped Syrians themselves from returning home.
“In some cases they have their own perceptions about the security, whether they are real or perceived improvements in the security situation in the areas where they are going to,” he said.
Over 5 million people have fled Syria since civil war broke out in 2011. Most sought safety in nearby countries like Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan. Some 6.3 millions left their embattled cities but stayed within the country.
The UNHCR said it is scaling up operational capacity in Syria to help those returning and will expand its humanitarian and protection efforts.