While the hugely divisive civil war has displaced many millions of people across Syria, there is some reason to be hopeful, at least for some, as the UN Refugee Agency today confirmed that almost half a million Syrians have been able to return to their homes.
The returnees are mostly in government-held areas like Aleppo, Hama, Homs, and Damascus, and are reflective both of an improvement in security in those areas, and the displacement of rebel factions to other parts of the country, though that ironically included rebels’ families, adding them to the still-displaced list.
What they were returning home to is another matter, particularly in long-contested cities like Aleppo, where many likely found their homes looted, shelled, looted some more, and are lucky if they weren’t leveled outright in fighting or in rival factions walling themselves off from one another.
The figure was also overwhelmingly internally displaced persons, 440,000 compared to just 31,000 returning from abroad, which may be reflective of the reality that no place in Syria is really a stable place to remain a displaced person, and many may simply be deciding that trying to return home is a risk worth taking.
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