Lavrov’s lie, as if 1,5 million refugees have returned to Syria and Sputnik’s fake photo

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Reading Time: 2 minutes


On September 2, 2019, Sputnik-Abkhazia published information, titled „Since the beginning of conflicts, about 1,5 million refugees have returned to Syria, – stated Lavrov“. The article relates to Russia’s Foreign Policy Minister’s, Sergey Lavrov’s speech, which pays an attention to the return of Syrian refugees to homeland as a result of Russia’s successful poliсies and Syrian government’s peace policy. According to Lavrov, Syrian government insures the return of refugees to their country and the number of returnees have already reached one and a half million. The material is accompanied by a photo, which, along with the information, creates the impression, as if people pictured are returning to the country.


Lavrov’s statement, as if 1.5 million refugees have returned to Syria , is a lie, since  according to UNHCR, in the period from 2016 to 30 June 2019 inclusive, only about 180 000 people have returned to Syria. The photo used to illustrate the return of the refugees, actually reflects not the return process, but leaving the Yarmouk Camp in 2015.

Statistics of refugees and returnees to Syria 

According to Lavrov, the return of 1,5 million refugees from neighbor countries to Syria is linked to Russia’s successful policies.

According to United Nation’s official data, nowadays, until September 2019 inclusive, officially, 5,634,791 refugees from Syria live in other countries. Most of them, about 65% – in Turkey, 17% – in Lebanon, 12% – in Jordan, etc. 

In 2016-2019, the number of returned refugees to Syria is 176, 429. Specifically, in 2016 – 28, 212; in 2017 – 50, 896; in 2018 – 55, 568; while in 2019 – 41, 570. 

Manipulative photo 

The photo, which Sputnik uses for illustrating Lavrov’s statement, does not reflect refugees’ return to Syria. In reality, Sputnik’s photographer Dmitry Vinogradov took the mentioned picture in 2015, in a Yarmouk Camp located in Syria. The Yarmouk Camp of Palestinians in Syria was established in 1957. In 2015, after the attack on the camp by ISIS, most residents left.

Prepared by Salome Elisashvili
Myth Detector Lab

Topic: Migrants
Country: Russia, Syria
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