Syrian refugees are streaming across the Turkish border, believing that the country is safe enough to return to for the holidays.
These refugees are returning back to Syria from Turkey for the purpose of celebrating Eid al-Adha, an important holiday in the Muslim faith and the second Eid of the year. This second Eid is considered the holier of the two.
A recent video from AFP shows a long line of Syrian refugees rolling and carrying suitcases on gravel roads across the Turkish border, indicating that Syrians believe the violence has died down enough to make the trek safe.
Refugees returning home for the beginning of September is part of a longer term trend tracked by the U.N. refugee agency, which found that almost 500,000 refugees have returned to Syria since the start of 2017. The agency stated that most of the refugees traveled to Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Damascus for a variety of reasons, one of which is an assessment that the security situation is stable enough.
Notably, the U.N. disagrees with this security assessment.
“While there is overall increased hope linked to the recent Astana and Geneva peace talks, UNHCR believes conditions for refugees to return in safety and dignity are not yet in place in Syria,” Andrej Mahecic, spokesman for the agency, said in a statement back in June.
Surveys seem to suggest that the majority of Syrian refugees will only return permanently when the conflict is finally over, which may not be for quite some time, as recent peace talks have floundered.
Syrian refugees also traveled back to Syria from Turkey for the first Eid in June, which followed the end of Ramadan. Some of the refugees who went back to Syria for the first Eid said they wanted to stay permanently.
The long civil war in Syria has resulted in five million refugees and precipitated the migrant crisis in Europe. Turkey in particular has provided space for around three million Syrians since the beginning of the war in 2011.
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