The Syrian Negotiations Commission’s Office of Foreign Relations organized an international online event to support the cause of Syrian refugees. The event brought together IDPs in northern Syria and refugees in neighboring countries, human rights activists, civil society organizations, permanent representatives of Germany, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Turkey and the European Union to the United Nations Office in Geneva.
President of the Syrian Negotiations Commission, Anas Abdah, said that there are nearly13 million Syrian refugees and IDPs who have been displaced from their homes in various brutal ways by the Assad regime’s and its backers’ military machine. He called for an end to their suffering as he indicated that this depends on reaching a just, real political solution through the complete implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254 of 2015 and the Geneva Communique of 2012, leading to the formation of a Transitional Governing Body (TGB) and the establishment of a safe, neutral environment for the return of refugees.
Abdah stressed that the return of refugees and IDPs must be safe, dignified and voluntary, and in accordance with the highest international standards set by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Adnan Rahmoun, Coordinator of the Syrian Opposition Coalition’s (SOC) Department of Refugee Affairs talked about the suffering of Syrian refugees, stressing that the refugee crisis is primarily political and must be addressed through political action. He added that though humanitarian action may create a space for political action, it cannot be an alternative to it.
Rahmoun stressed that any political solution in Syria must include an approach centered on refugees; address the major security challenges; and ensure justice and services. He noted that the return of refugees is not a physical transfer of people to their areas of origin, but rather requires the establishment of the necessary infrastructure.
Rahmoun also stressed that security and safety can only be ensured through a political process that establishes good governance, puts an end to impunity, facilitates reintegration and disarmament, and ensures justice. He added that this can only be achieved through the establishment of a TGB in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Resolution 2254.
In a joint statement, Ambassador of the European Union to the UN Geneva Office Walter Stephens, Germany’s Permanent Representative Freiherr von Ungern-Sternberg, Turkey’s Permanent Representative Sadık Arslan, United Kingdom’s Ambassador Miriam Sherman, Deputy Chief of the US Mission Mark Cassayre, and Deputy Permanent Representative of the Canadian Mission Tamara Mawhinney reaffirmed their countries’ commitment to assisting refugees and displaced persons, and to supporting political transition in Syria in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions.
The statement indicated that rebuilding and the return of refugees depend on achieving tangible, real progress in implementing UN Resolution 2254.
Representatives of civil society talked about the situation of refugees in neighboring countries of Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, as well as the IDPs, highlighting the issues of concern, especially those related to property and housing rights.
They also talked about the issue of detainees and the urgent need to release them and reveal the fate of the forcibly disappeared as one of the confidence-building measures.
Participants set forth a set of recommendations to address the refugee crisis, stressing that a radical solution to the crisis can only be through serious and productive work to bring about real political transition in Syria in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012, UN Security Council Resolutions 2118 and 2254, and UN General Assembly Resolution 67/262.
The recommendations also emphasized the need to consider refugees and IDPs as victims of the Assad regime, Russia and Iran, stressing that resolving the refugee crisis requires providing a safe, neutral environment by ensuring respect for freedom of expression and human rights as well as putting an end to all forms of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)