UN coordination essential for refugee returns to Syria: Merkel

Young journalists club

News ID: 24781
Publish Date: 20:45 - 22 June 2018
TEHRAN, June 22 - German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for a political solution to the hot-button issue of Syrian refugees' return from Lebanon to their homeland, saying it can only take place in coordination with the United Nations.

UN coordination essential for refugee returns to Syria: MerkelTEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -"We want to contribute to reaching a political solution in Syria, that will allow refugees to return to Syria," Merkel told reporters in the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Friday following her meeting with Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri.

"I confirmed with officials that returns can only happen in agreement and talks with UN organizations," she added.

The small country of Lebanon has the world's highest number of refugees per capita. Nearly 1.5 million Syrian refugees have been living in Lebanon since 2011, making up a quarter of the country’s population.

Lebanon's head of the General Security agency Major General Abbas Ibrahim said late in May that Lebanese and Syrian officials are working together to facilitate the return of thousands of refugees who want to return to Syria.

"There are contacts with the Syrian authorities about thousands of Syrians who want to return to Syria. The stay of Syrians in Lebanon will not go on for a long time. There is intensive work by the political authority," the Lebanese official added.

The German chancellor said it was "understandable" that the large refugee influx had caused tensions in Lebanon but expressed hope they could be settled.

Following coordination between Lebanese and Syrian authorities, around 500 refugees left southern Lebanon earlier this year for Syria and several thousand have gone back to their homeland from towns around the border in recent years.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says it is not involved in the return process and believes that Syria is not yet safe enough for refugees to return.

However, Lebanese officials have been constantly calling for refugee returns with or without a political solution to the Syrian crisis after seven years.

Last October, Lebanese President Michel Aoun called for a gradual return of Syrian refugees to their country, saying Lebanon can no longer cope with the burden.

“My country cannot handle it anymore,” Aoun said, calling on global powers to help start the process of return for the Syrian refugees.

During her two-day visit to Beirut, Merkel is also scheduled to hold talks with the Lebanese president. The German chancellor had met Jordan's King Abdullah II before her travel to Lebanon.

Jordan says it is hosting more than 1.4 million Syrian refugees, only 650,000 of them are registered as refugees by the UN.

According to the UNHCR, more than 5.6 million people have fled Syria since 2011 and another 6.6 million are currently internally displaced.

Earlier this month, the United Nations said more than 920,000 people have been displaced inside Syria during the first four months of 2018, the highest level since foreign-backed militancy began in the Arab country seven years ago.

Panos Moumtzis, the UN regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria, told reporters in the Swiss city of Geneva that SyrAdd data-x-Itemia continued to witness massive displacements of people over the past few months.

"We are seeing a massive displacement inside Syria... From January to April, there were over 920,000 newly displaced people," Moumtzis said, adding, "This was the highest displacement in that short period of time we have seen since the conflict started."

Syria has been gripped by militancy caused by multiple factions and groups since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the Arab country.

In recent months, Takfiri militants have lost much of the territory they once held in Syria.

A conference co-hosted by the UN and the EU in April said that conditions for the return of refugees had not been fulfilled yet, noting that voluntary repatriation might not take place in safety and dignity.

Source: Press TV

UN ، refugees ، syria
Your Comment