President of the Syrian Coalition Abdurrahman Mustafa called on the European Union to resist Russian plans to have Syrian refugees repatriated before a political transition is achieved. He underscored the need to create a safe, appropriate environment for the return of Syrian refugees at first.
At a meeting with EU representative Lara Scarpetta, Mustafa said that “there can be no separation between political solution, the return of refugees, and reconstruction,” stressing that these issues cannot be addressed separately. He stressed need to provide “legal guarantees for refugees and ensure the participation of the United Nations and relevant organizations in any plans for the return of Syrian refugees.”
Mustafa pointed out that the issue of the return of refugees does not only include logistical or financial aspects, stressing the importance of adequately addressing the Assad regime’s violations of human rights and the issue of reconstruction in particular.
“The European Union must not support Russia’s plans for the return of refugees before the appropriate conditions are created. The return of Syrian refugees must be voluntary and in a safe environment.”
Mustafa warned that the Assad regime’s continuing crimes against civilians might cause a fresh wave of refugees. “An assault on Idlib by the regime will lead to a new influx of refugees, which will undermine plans for the return of Syrian refugees.”
Furthermore, Mustafa expressed hope for an increased international momentum on Syria to pave the way for bringing about a comprehensive political transition, the implementation of international resolutions, and the formation of a Transitional Governing Body (TGB). He also called for ratcheting up pressure on the Assad regime to force it to engage seriously in the political process in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council Resolution 2254.
Mustafa stressed the need for international action and stricter stance against the Assad regime, especially with respect to the crimes it is committing against detainees. He also called for ensuring accountability for all war crimes, including the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons and the mass forced displacement of civilians. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)