Syrian regime creates committee to repatriate refugees

Syrian regime creates committee to repatriate refugees
Despite proposals to return millions of displaced Syrians, many fear detention and even death under Assad's brutal regime.
2 min read
06 August, 2018
Syrians have returned from Lebanon despite fear of detention or death under Assad's regime [Getty]
The Syrian regime wants refugees who fled the country's conflict to return home and has set up a coordination committee to repatriate millions of nationals.

The cabinet on Sunday "agreed to create a coordination body for the return of those displaced abroad to their cities and villages," state news agency SANA reported on Sunday.

The bloody seven-year conflict has displaced more than five million Syrians outside the country, the United Nations says, with more than half displaced to Turkey and most of the rest split between Lebanon and Jordan.

The committee "will take the necessary measures to settle the status of all those who were displaced and secure their return as security and basic services return to different regions", SANA said on Sunday.

It would take steps towards "ensuring they can lead normal lives and practice their jobs as before the war" started in 2011, it added.

Read more: Plans to repatriate Syrians are futile while Assad remains

The coordination body is to "intensify contact with friendly countries to provide all facilitations and take suitable steps towards their return", SANA said.

President Bashar al-Assad's regime has pushed back rebels and jihadists in large parts of Syria since its ally Russia intervened militarily on its side in 2015, tipping the battle, which started with peaceful protests in 2011, in his favour.

Last month, Russia presented the United States with plans for the coordinated return of refugees to Syria, aiming to repatriate some 890,000 Syrians from Lebanon, despite alarm from refugees who fear detention and even death on arrival.

Despite the returns being described as voluntary, many are sceptical of the "guarantee" that those returning will not be detained. The Assad regime has well-known for its brutal persecution of those who have, or believed to have voiced opposition to the government. 

Syrian refugees in Jordan have voiced their concern over returning to their homeland before the war has ended and their safety is assured. They are also distrustful of Russia as a peace broker due to its war-mongering role conducting brutal campaigns against those who opposed Assad's rule.

According to the Syrian presidency, Assad told Lavrentyev that "Syria is bent on all its children returning".

In comments to the Russian media, Assad appealed for Syrian refugees - especially those who had their own businesses in the country - to return.

Countries hosting Syrians, including Turkey and Lebanon, have stressed the need for the return of refugees to Syria, while human rights groups have warned that this should be done on a voluntary basis.

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