Nearly 600000 refugees return in 2017 - IOM

Over 600000 displaced Syrians return home in first seven months of 2017: UN agency

Over 600000 displaced Syrians return home in first seven months of 2017: UN agency

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region-More than 600,000 Syrian refugees have returned home in the past seven months, says the United Nations migration agency (IOM), a lot of them from inside Syria and others from neighboring countries for reasons of saving their properties or improved situation back home. From January to July, 806,661 people left their homes - far more than the number of those who returned.

The refugees making their way back came from various regions insides Syria and outside the country, such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan or Iraq.

According to the IOM, 27% of respondents said they were returning to protect their property and 25% claimed the economy improved in their area.

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Half of all returns in 2016 were to Aleppo Governorate. Hama Governorate has recieved the second highest number of returnees, with 75,209 individuals resettling in their homes. The rest are either with hosts, squatting in abandoned houses, in informal refugee settlements, or renting.

While the majority of returnees are able to return to their own secure housing, many still face poor access to clean water, health services, and food due to the massive destruction of basic infrastructure that has taken place.

"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)".

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The Syrian war, which has entered its seventh year, has left hundreds of thousands of dead and displaced almost half of the population of 22 million.

Despite the returnee numbers, the IOM said displacement rates remain high in Syria. From January to July 2017, an estimated 808,661 people were displaced, many for the second or third time, and over 6 million in total now remain displaced within the country.

IOM spokeswoman Olivia Haedon said most of the returns are spontaneous, but not necessarily voluntary, safe or sustainable.

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