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Russia, Syria hold joint meeting in Damascus on return of refugees

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The photo shows a view of the joint meeting of the Syrian–Russian ministerial coordination committees on the return of Syrian refugees, in Damascus on November 16, 2021. (By SANA news agency)

Russia and Syria have held a joint meeting of their ministerial coordination committees on the return of Syrian refugees in Damascus, with representatives of the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations in attendance.

During the conference on Tuesday, the participants discussed the implementation of initiatives to facilitate a safe, dignified and voluntary return of Syrian refugees to their homeland, as well as further steps toward the restoration of peace in the war-torn Arab country.

Syria’s Local Administration and Environment Minister Hussein Makhlouf told the meeting that last year’s International Conference on Return of Syrian refugees formed a platform of action, which the coordination committees were following up based on the directions of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

“Thanks to the Syrian state’s efforts with the support of the friends, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have returned their homes,” he said.

Makhlouf also said the Syrian government had provided a supportive environment for the return of Syrian refugees, and that it was trying to rehabilitate the infrastructures in the areas recently liberated from the grip of foreign-backed terrorists.

Syria keeps providing necessary health, educational and nutritional requirements for the displaced, but the citizens held in al-Hawl and Rukban camps face all forms of deprivation and humiliation by the US occupation and its mercenaries, he added.

Russia’s Special Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev, for his part, said that the Syrian-Russian joint efforts had helped hundreds of thousands of Syrians return their homes.

Additionally, Michael Mizintsev, chairman of the Russian-Syrian coordination committees on the return of Syrian refugees, stressed that Moscow had contributed, to a great deal, to combatting terrorism along with Damascus.

“The joint efforts of the two committees have helped more than 2.350 million citizens return home, among them 1.372 million displaced inside the country and more than 947,000 refugees from abroad,” he said.

In a joint statement, the coordination committees enumerated the main challenges hampering the Syrian people’s return to normal life.

The first obstacle to Syria’s post-war recovery “is the occupation by foreign military forces of the territories of a sovereign Syrian State, a member of the United Nations. We consider the illegal military presence in Syria to be the main destructive factor in the country's revival. It leads to the plundering of the natural resources of the Syrian Arab Republic and exacerbation of hotbeds of tension in the region,” the statement read.

Among other challenges facing Syria, it highlighted unilateral sanctions against the nation, as well as the passivity of a number of Western countries and international organizations in implementing UN Security Council resolution 2585, and their discrimination against government-held territories.

“In order to overcome the obstacles to the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland, as well as to restore peaceful life in the long-suffering Syrian land, we consider it necessary to involve the entire international community in the tasks of reconstruction and humanitarian assistance to Syria,” it added.

Since March 2011, Syria has been gripped by a campaign of militancy and destruction sponsored by the US and its allies.

However, Syrian government forces, backed by Russia and Iran, have managed to win back control of almost all regions from terrorist groups.

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