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    30-Sep-2018

No Syrian refugee has returned home since June — UNHCR

 

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto, The Jordan Times

 

AMMAN — No Syrian refugees have returned from Jordan to their war-torn country since late June, external relations officer at UNHCR Jordan Francesco Bert told The Jordan Times on Saturday. 
 
Some 1,775 refugees have spontaneously returned to Syria since the beginning of 2018 according to the official, who noted that the total number of Syrian refugees who have arrived back to their homes since 2016 stands at 17,153.
 
“The return trends during the first half of the year were sporadic and very limited, and as of the end of June, the return stopped completely following Jordan’s firm stand on the border closure,” Bert said.
 
Jordan has sealed off all northern borders with Syria due to security reasons.
 
In a press statement, the minister called on the UN and the international community to “place pressure on Syria’s warring parties to reach a political solution that ends the crisis in southern Daraa and stops the large-scale suffering of Syrians”, reiterating the significance of combining efforts to stop violence and killings.
 
As of June this year, a total of 666,294 Syrian refugees were still registered in the Kingdom according to figures issued by UNHCR, which showed that over 85 per cent of refugees live below the poverty line, while 48 per cent of them are children. 
 
The Syrian ministry of transport on Saturday announced that all logistical preparations for the reopening of the Nasib border crossing with Jordan have been completed, Syria’s state-run news agency reported, adding that the flow of trucks and transit across the border has begun.
 
However, prior to the announcement, Minister of State for Media Affairs Jumana Ghunaimat confirmed that the border crossing [Jaber] with Syria would remain closed.
 
“The two sides continue to study the possibility of opening the border,” Ghunaimat said in a statement, carried by the Jordan News Agency, Petra, noting that “technical meetings to this end are still ongoing, as reopening the border requires the availability of infrastructure, logistical and technical standards”. 
 
“Opening the border is a matter that lies in the hands of both governments, and receiving confirmation from the Jordanian authorities on the decision announced by Syria would be a potential game changer,” Bert told The Jordan Times in this regard, stressing that “UNHCR is working closely with the government in order to assess the situation and facilitate the eventual return of refugees when the Nasib border crossing is open”. 
 
“Eventually, it is up to the refugees themselves to make a voluntary and informed decision to return,” the official concluded, stressing that the voluntary return of all refugees is at the core of the UN agency’s work. 
 

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