Preconditions For Mass Return Of Syrian IDPs, Refugees Not Met Due To Sanctions - IFRC

Preconditions for Mass Return of Syrian IDPs, Refugees Not Met Due to Sanctions - IFRC

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 26th March, 2021) The lack of a "pragmatic" political solution to the Syrian conflict and the lasting impact of unilateral sanctions on Damascus means that the preconditions for the mass return of internally displaced persons and refugees have not been met, Andrei Engstrand-Neacsu, the head of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies' (IFRC) country office in Syria, told Sputnik in an interview.

"The road to a massive or well-organized return is a long one and the preconditions are, in my opinion, not entirely there today," Engstrand-Neacsu said.

The United States' Caesar Act sanctions on Syria, which came into effect this past summer, have targeted foreign governments and companies willing to participate in the reconstruction of the middle Eastern country after a decade of conflict.

Engstrand-Neacsu said that dozens of villages along the highway from Damascus to Deir ez-Zur were "in ruins," adding that the measures imposed by the international community were hindering the ability of companies and organizations to rebuild these settlements to give Syria's internally displaced and refugees a place to return to.

"If the rehabilitation and reconstruction is conditioned by donors by the achievement of a political solution and peace agreement, the preconditions for return will not be there.

You will not be able to restore the electricity because you will not be given the resources when you submit your project for validation. You can't restore the water, you can't restore electricity, you can't rebuild schools, etc.," the IFRC official said.

Certain regions of Damascus have grown in population by up to 60 percent as a result of the influx of internally displaced people, Engstrand-Neacsu noted, adding that a "pragmatic" approach was needed to help residents return to their homes.

"In order to be able to talk about a meaningful return and a massive return, several things need to be put in place and one is the political and legal framework, which can be achieved only through a more pragmatic approach from all the parties concerned," the IFRC official said.

According to data published by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 6 million people are displaced within Syria, and as many as 6.6 million Syrians have fled the country as refugees since 2011.

Members of the international community held a conference in Damascus back in November to discuss the return of Syrian refugees. Bashar Assad, the Syrian president, told delegates that efforts are ongoing to ensure that those who wish to return to Syria are able to do so safely.