A heartbroken 94-year-old Syrian refugee is returning home after his wife's death, risking his safety to be with his family once again.
Abou Ali left the war-torn country two years ago to flee to Jordan in the hope of receiving better care for his sick wife.
“I used to have fun with her. But since she died, the world feels smaller, I feel like I am suffocating. I swear," he told the UNCHR.
Ali said that he doesn’t want to end his life in exile - preferring to head home to Daraa - his hometown and where his wife's body has been repatriated.
Abou Ali is returning home after his wife's death
He left a poignant message before he left the country: “Exile strips away your roots. When you leave your country and your home, you lose your dignity. Your dignity stays at home, it doesn’t come with you.”
“What God wants will happen. If I am meant to die in an airstrike, I will. If I am meant to die under the bombing I will. In a fire, I will. “
Ali’s said his memory of life in Syria was of an idyllic time: “I swear we were living in heaven. I had a grocery shop. 26 years in that shop. 26 years that felt like an hour. Why? Because I was happy, living a good life, seeing good people.”
But he described how the war has changed things. “Our life has been wasted. It’s like someone who lived all his life up above and suddenly they found themselves underground.”
Jordan witnessed an increase in the number of Syrian refugees moving back to Syria in August and September. More than 100 refugees went back to Syria every day in those two months.
With the conflict in its fifth year, desperation, aid cuts and difficult living conditions in the countries they have fled to have pushed Syrians to move back despite the dangers there.
According to the UNCHR the latest figures shows an average of 30 refugees per day moving back in October.
The decrease could be because of a variety of factors: the security situation getting more complex, the beginning of winter and the resumption of food assistance; cash assistance and winter support.