A local rights group said that the people who fled their homes in the city of Deir Ezzor are reluctant to return a year after the Assad regime forces retook full control of the entire city. The rights group cited the people’s fear of arrest and forced military recruitment as well as lack of job opportunities and the widespread destruction in the ravaged city.
A new report by Justice for Life rights group highlighted the reasons as to why the people who fled Deir Ezzor’s are unwilling to return despite the hardships they are enduring away from their homes.
According to the rights group, three major waves of displacement of civilians took place in Deir Ezzor, the first of which was in 2012 when the Assad regime launched a brutal bombing campaign on the city. The second wave took place in 2014 when the ISIS extremist group took control of most of the province, while the third wave was triggered by the major offensive regime forces launched to recapture the province in 2017.
The rights group said that the people who have been displaced from Deir Ezzor are now staying in the provinces of Idlib, Damascus, Hasakah and Aleppo as well as in the areas east of the Euphrates River. It noted that it interviewed 17 people who are now living in areas outside the control of the regime. The people said they did not intend to return to their areas of origin in the province.
The IDPs said that they mainly fear being detained and tortured. One of the interviewee who identified himself as Khattab said: “I fear for myself and my family. We may be detained and tortured if we return.” Raed, another interviewee, told Justice for Life: “I do not trust the Assad regime’s promises of resettlement of my status and its talk about reconciliations.”
In addition to fear of retaliation by the regime, the fear of forced recruitment by the Assad regime discourages many IDPs from returning. The rights group said that many of the IDPs do not want to join Assad’s army as they will be forced to commit gross violations and crimes against their fellow Syrians.
Even those who did not take part in anti-regime activities refuse to return, the rights group said. Some of the interviewees said that they may be accused with sabotage and working with terrorist groups.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)