In the first half of 2017, more than 600,000 Syrian refugees returned home from neighbouring countries, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The news, which the IOM said was due by an improved economic and security situation in Syria, comes as Western nations continue to welcome large numbers of asylum seekers from the region — with Britain’s ‘Syrian vulnerable person resettlement programme’ aiming to resettle 20,000 people by 2020.
More "Welcoming Culture" for the whole EU. Thanks, Angie. https://t.co/IbRieIdHwg
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Other drivers behind what the UN-affiliated body described as the largest wave of returning Syrians were problems of integration in their host countries, and the desire to protect their homes and property, the IOM explained.
The 603,000 Syrians reported to have returned to their towns and cities between January and July this year made their way back from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq, as well as from other regions inside Syria.
Whilst the IOM announced in March the launch of a four-year project, funded by the European Commission, to help the reintegration of Afghan refugees returning to their homeland, Afghans made up the second largest group of migrants — after Syrians — who claimed asylum in Europe in the first three months of this year.
In February, the IOM reported a “spike” in the number of Iraqis returning to their homes, with data from the organisation showing that since January 2014, two million out of around three million Iraqis identified as internally displaced persons (IDPs) seeking refuge have returned to their places of origin.
Despite improvements to security in regions in the Middle East, Western governments are continuing to welcome migrants from countries where refugees have been returning home in large numbers, with Australia announcing on Friday that the regional city of Armidale will begin a programme resettling refugees from Iraq and Syria from February next year.
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Director General of the IOM William Lacy Swing has repeatedly demanded Europe open its borders to migrants from the poorest regions of the world, asserting that mass migration to the West is “desirable” for the “vibrance” he says it brings.
The former U.S. ambassador, who has described endless third world migration to Europe as “inevitable” wrote in January: “There is simply no way two opposites – ageing Europe and youthful Africa – won’t attract.”
Meeting with the IOM director, and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi this weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel backed plans to send more Middle Eastern and African migrants to the European Union, saying the bloc could “cope with” 40,000 more asylum seekers.
Unveiled in Berlin on Friday, the UN plans would see the expansion of a two-year scheme for resettling 22,000 Syrian asylum seekers (currently in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan) nearly double to 40,000 relocated annually from 2018.