This report examines a number of reasons why some of Syrian refugees have returned home, despite the high risks involved, includ- ing the longevity of the crisis, the deteriorat- ing living conditions in displacement, and the legal and security pressures they face. Some countries and international organiza- tions have cited the number of returning ref- ugees as proof that it is safe for them to go home, and to justify an immediate (coerced, and in some cases forced) repatriation of all Syrian refugees. Assad’s regime, Russia and some international agencies have disseminat- ed inaccurate or out-of-context figures about refugee returns to regime-held areas. These figures do not reflect essential details about why these individuals have decided to return.
The United Nations (UN) estimated that 8,070 refugees returned to Syria from Jordan during the first 9 months of the Russian initiative1 to repatriate refugees (July 2018 to March 2019), an initiative that was closer to a forced return for the refugees and did not include any credible safety guarantees or monitoring mechanisms. This number is very close to the Jordanian government’s estimates. The Rus- sian government, however, has declared that 87,000 refugees returned from Jordan dur- ing this time. The UN has also estimated that 14,496 Syrian refugees returned home from Lebanon in the same period, compared with the Russian government estimate of 55,000 and the Lebanese General Directorate of Se- curity figure of 100,000.