UN sees 'notable trend' of refugees returning home in Syria
Nearly half a million people who were displaced in Syria due to its civil war have returned to their homes, the UN refugee agency has said, pointing to a "notable trend of spontaneous returns" this year.
UNHCR said aid agencies estimate that more than 440,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) and another 31,000 refugees who had fled abroad have returned home.
Agency spokesman Andrei Mahecic said: "This is a significant trend, and a significant number."
However, he cautioned that this was "only a fraction" of an estimated five million Syrian refugees abroad.
Mr Mahecic said those returning have gone back mostly to Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Damascus and other areas, mainly to seek out family members, check on property or benefit from "a real or perceived improvement in security conditions".