Q – What, according to the Foreign Ministry, are the necessary conditions for a voluntary repatriation of refugees to Syria in safety and dignity? Do you believe it is possible to begin a return in the current circumstances?
A – More than 5.6 million Syrians have taken refuge in neighboring countries and in Europe. There are 6.6 million internally displaced persons in Syria – the largest displaced population in the world. These people have fled violence, insecurity and the atrocities of a criminal regime. Their return must be voluntary and must guarantee them a decent, secure life, consistent with HCR criteria.
To date, these conditions do not exist. The adoption of Law No. 10, which confiscates the property of refugees and displaced persons, the country’s instability, and cases of the arrest and forced conscription of refugees returning from Lebanon prove that the regime is continuing its strategy of preying on refugees and displaced persons. As this year saw the largest movement of displaced persons since the beginning of the conflict, with 920,000 new DPs since January 2018, and the entire international community is warning of the risks of a major humanitarian and migratory crisis in the event of an offensive against Idlib province, envisioning the refugees’ return is unrealistic in the current circumstances.
France remains committed to supporting the efforts of Syria’s neighbors, which are harboring millions of refugees. In this spirit, we announced at the Brussels II conference on April 25 that we are allocating more than a billion euros for Syria and the countries harboring Syrian refugees for the period of 2018-2020.
We are also working actively within international bodies and with our partners to ensure that the conditions are met for a voluntary repatriation in safety and dignity. We are demanding in particular the abrogation of Law No. 10 and guarantees by the regime that there will be no reprisals or forced conscription. We reaffirm that only a negotiated political solution in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 will make it possible to establish the conditions for a voluntary repatriation of refugees and internally displaced persons in safety and dignity.