TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Up to 250,000 Syrian refugees could return to their devastated homeland in 2019, while many others face problems with documentation and property that the Damascus government must help resolve, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said Tuesday.
Some 5.6 million Syrian refugees remain in neighboring countries – Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq – Amin Awad, UNHCR director for the Middle East and North Africa, told a news briefing. Some 37,000 have returned this year, UNHCR figures show.
“Now, by and large, the war has ended. We have a few pockets (of hostilities), including Idlib, as you know that there is a negotiated ceasefire and a de-escalation zone,” Awad said, Reuters reported.
“As the situation in Syria improves some of these refugees are making the journey home,” he said. “We are forecasting, in what we call phase one, up to 250,000 Syrians go back in 2019. That figure can go up and down according to the pace with which we are working and removing these obstacles to return.”
The most important obstacles to return are documentation for the refugees and their property and homes, Awad said.
“Then there are issues related to conscription, there are issues related to amnesty for those who deserted the army. These are drivers that would basically keep people away, they are obstacles.”
Other hindrances include mines and unexploded ordnance, and it will require a huge demining operation to clear agricultural and civilian areas, Awad said.
The UNHCR appealed to donors for $5.5 billion on Tuesday to support neighboring countries in providing health, water, sanitation, food, education, and psycho-social support to Syrian refugees.