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UN Agency: 600,000 Syrian Refugees Have Returned Home; Russian Commander Shoigu Calls for Aid to Returnees

Aug. 14, 2017 (EIRNS)—The International Organization for Migration, the UN Migration Agency, and other partner agencies have calculated that 602,759 Syrians displaced by the war returned to their homes between January and July of 2017. This compares to 685,662 in all of 2016. Of the returnees for 2017, 84% had been internally displaced; 16% returned from outside the country, primarily from Turkey, with smaller numbers returning from Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. An estimated 67% of returnees returned to AleppoGovernorate, most of which is now under government control.

According to the IOM release, returnee access to food and household items is good, but access to water and health services is "dangerously low as the country’s infrastructure has been extremely damaged by the conflict."

The IOM also notes that while returns are increasing, displacements due to the conflict remain high, an estimated total of 808,661 from January to July. More than six million people remain displaced inside Syria.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, in an interview broadcast on Rossiya 24 TV on Aug. 13, called on international aid agencies to provide aid to Syrian civilians.

"Today we say: ’Send [the aid] to the de-escalation zones, everything is open there. If you cannot transport, we shall transport for you.’ But we cannot be both the mother and the father. Thus, of course, there should be support from humanitarian organizations, from the United Nations Organization,"

he said, reported TASS. Joint work of Russia and international humanitarian organizations will favor stabilizing of the situation with refugees, he continued. "Further on, refugees would return home, at first from inside Syria, what is happening already now, and then from other regions," he added.