Aid agencies have warned that hundreds of thousands of Syrians are at risk of being pushed to return in 2018, despite ongoing violence in the Middle Eastern country.
The warning was issued by six humanitarian agencies amid what they called a “global anti-refugee backlash”, harsher conditions in regional countries who have taken in Syrians and a “misleading rhetoric” suggesting the country is safe for refugees to return to after victories by the Syrian government.
A new report by aid agencies including the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Save the Children and CARE International, said that in 2017, there were three newly displaced Syrians for each of the 721,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees who returned home.
“The majority of Syrian refugees and internally displaced live under terrible conditions and want to return home, but their return must be informed, voluntary, safe, assisted and protected. Now, return would neither be safe nor voluntary for the vast majority who fled the war and the violence,” NRC Secretary-General Jan Egeland said in a statement.
The new report states that in the first nine months of 2017, 2.4 million Syrians fled their homes.
Of those who returned home last year, 37,000 had to flee again.