UNHCR says some 5.6 million Syrian refugees still remain in five neighbouring countries, and $5.5 billion is required to support the refugees, including a million babies born in displacement.
Up to 250,000 Syrian refugees could return to their devastated homeland in 2019, while many others face problems with documentation and property that the Syrian regime must help resolve, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Tuesday, as UN and aid partners seek $5.5 billion to support countries hosting Syrian refugees.
Some 5.6 million Syrian refugees remain in neighbouring countries –– Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq –– Amin Awad, UNHCR director for the Middle East and North Africa, told a news briefing.
Some 37,000 have returned this year, UNHCR figures show.
"We are forecasting in this phase up to 250,000 Syrians go back in 2019. That figure can go up and down according to the pace with which we are working and removing these obstacles to return," Awad said.
In 2011 millions of #Syria'ns rose up peacefully for these rights believing that the world that created the document would stand with us. Sadly we thought wrong. #HumanRightsDay pic.twitter.com/S7ALPAwbpu— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) December 10, 2018
$5.5B needed to help hosting countries
Also on Tuesday, the United Nations and aid partners said they need $5.5 billion to support countries hosting millions of Syrian refugees, including a million babies born in displacement.
The "Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan" aims to help Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey deal with the impact of hosting some 5.6 million Syrian refugees.
"These neighbouring countries have remained incredibly generous in hosting large refugee populations since the start of the crisis" in Syria in March 2011, a statement said.
"Some 5.6 million Syrian refugees are currently registered across the region with around one million newly born in displacement," the statement said.
"These one million children have largely been born into a situation where poverty and unemployment are common, early marriage and child labour occur, and an education is not always secure," said Amin Awad, the UN refugee agency's director for the Middle East and North Africa.
The $5.5 billion plan for 2019-2020 by the UN and more than 200 partner aid groups is designed to target more than nine million people across five countries, the statement said.
Syria: The US-led Coalition stripped Hajin's hospital of its protected status under the Geneva Conventions [and presumably conducted strikes] on December 9th after ISIS reportedly used it as a base to attack partner SDF forces. No word on the status of any civilians present. pic.twitter.com/rnz9BO9cNZ— Airwars (@airwars) December 10, 2018
Syria's civil war has killed more than 400,000 people since it started with the brutal repression of democratic protests in 2011, and has displaced 6.6 million internally in addition to those who fled abroad.
Host countries have repeatedly complained that hosting the Syrian refugees is a drain on their resources, urging the international community to step in and help them cope.