SACD Newsletter

May 2022

SACD to Brussels Conference: For Discussions on Return to Have Meaning, There Must be Safe Environment in Syria

As the “Brussels VI Conference on Supporting the future of Syria and the region“ convened, more than 13 million displaced Syrians face an increasingly dire prospects with growing unilateral calls from some hosting countries for the return of Syrians refugees to an unsafe Syria, without any guarantees for the minimum conditions for a safe, voluntary and dignified return.

The political process must be reformed to elevate the safe environment to the top of the political agenda. Office of the Special Envoy must work on focusing the process on securing the rights and minimum conditions for return expressed by refugees and IDPs as a fundamental part of any political solution and its individual elements, such as the new and credible constitution or elections. Adventurism and dubious “pilot projects” on return must be rejected and abandoned. 

Refik Hodzic: Safe return for Syrians needs fundamental changes and right conditions on the ground

The Syrian Association for the Citizens’ Dignity, in cooperation with the Turkish organization SOLARIS held a symposium in the capital of Turkey, Ankara, on February 10-11, 2022, with the participation of dozens of Turkish academics, representatives of civil society organizations, Syrian and Turkish political, and media figures. The symposium was an essential starting point for a serious and open discussion aimed at building a common understanding of the situation experienced by Syrian refugees today in Turkey and everywhere.

In his speech, Transitional Justice Expert Refik Hodzic said “Currently, return to Syria is seen as low hanging fruit to be implemented without fundamental changes on ground, yet it's a crucial issue for sustainable solution, but also most difficult as many conditions must be in place.”  

Reconciliation agreements in Daraa are a Russian tactic used by the Syrian regime to liquidate its opponents

The deteriorating conditions in reconciliation areas have led to the continuation of waves of silent displacement from Daraa to the north of Syria, which confirms the impossibility of the safe, voluntary and dignified return of the displaced Syrians to the. Today Daraa stands as a striking example that Russia, the perpetrator who committed crimes of killing and forced displacement against Syrians, cannot be the guarantor of any peace and stability in Syria.

It is quite unfathomable that the world who sees Russia as an aggressor in Ukraine would even consider it as a guarantor of any peace efforts in Syria. As long as Russia is not held accountable for its crimes, it will not stop in Syria and Ukraine, but its sway will expand to other regions as well.

Before Mariupol, there was Douma: How Russia’s tactics of targeting civilians were transplanted from Syria to Ukraine

Today, as the world is witnessing another brutal war waged by Russia, this time against Ukraine, the displaced Syrians, who witnessed and lived this brutality at the hands of the same killing machine in Syria, are reliving their memories.

Treating Russia as a guarantor of security in Syria, instead of an aggressor and perpetrator of war crimes, like its being treated for crimes in Ukraine, is a testament to this double standard. Douma's story, whose echoes we're seeing in Mariupol, shows this harsh reality.

SACD spoke to former member of Civil Negotiating Committee of Douma who described thoroughly the role of Russia in shelling and besieging the city, killing and forcibly displacing thousands.

What needs to happen before voluntary, safe and dignified return to Syria is possible?

Despite the desperate search of some policy makers and international mediators for a quick solution or flirtations with appeasement of the Syrian regime and its Russian and Iranian sponsors, a comprehensive and sustainable political solution that meets the aspirations of the Syrians is still the only way to end the conflict in Syria, restore stability to the entire region and stop the spill over of the consequences of the conflict to neighboring countries and Europe.

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