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International Support Urged for Syrian Refugees to Return Home by Türkiye

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As a donor conference for Syria kicks off in Brussels on Thursday, Turkey urged the international community to cooperate to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees to their country. Faruk Kaymakci, Turkey’s permanent representative to the European Union, represented Turkey at the event and thanked the EU for holding the conference, “an important platform to support Syrians and neighboring countries hosting Syrian refugees.”

The Turkish delegate said that the February 6 earthquake that struck both Turkey and Syria, claiming thousands of lives, revealed the urgency of the situation in terms of maintaining stability in Syria and accelerating the political process to this extent. “Implementation of Security Council Resolution 2254 is the way to solve the Syrian issue,” he said, referring to the resolution, which calls for a roadmap for a political settlement and cease-fire in war-torn Syria. “The international community’s support and participation in the process is needed more than ever,” he said.

Donor nations around the world have been struggling to find billions of dollars to expand their commitment of aid to the millions of Syrians who have suffered from hunger, poverty, civil war and earthquakes. Amid urgent needs around the world, from Ukraine to Sudan, the annual donors’ conference hosted by the European Union in Brussels has more political overtones as Bashar al-Assad of Syria slowly makes his way from an international pariah to the regional mainstream. Finding cash remains key though.

My appeal is simple: help us help the Syrian people. “We are asking for $11.1 billion, which is our largest appeal worldwide,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “We don’t have time to lose.”

Funding from the conference will help provide assistance to Syrians in the war-torn country and to the approximately 5.7 million Syrian refugees living in neighboring countries, particularly Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. But for countries beset by economic hardship, high inflation that has hurt the poor even in the richest countries and the seemingly hopeless situation that persists in the 13-year-old Syrian conflict, money is increasingly difficult to come by. Guterres said that because of the funding crisis, significant aid cuts will affect the 5.5 million people in Syria who receive food aid. “We will run out of cash assistance for 2.5 million Syrians next month alone,” Guterres said, calling that his “number one priority.” The crisis is also hurting neighboring countries, which host some 5.7 million refugees and face economic crises of their own. Some say their support for refugees may change in light of any funding pressures. “Tackling the refugee burden is a partnership between donor countries and host countries,” said Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, a country that hosts some 1.3 million Syrians. “If donor countries cannot play their role, they cannot expect host countries to do so either.”

The pledging conference comes at a politically uncertain time. Assad recently gained a major political lifeline with Syria’s return to the Arab League. Several neighboring countries of Syria, led by Saudi Arabia, have held talks with it to resolve the ongoing security and economic crisis in the war-torn country, hoping it will lead to the return of large numbers of refugees. However, Josep Borrell, the foreign policy chief of the 27-nation European Union, insisted that the bloc would not change its policies toward Assad, including maintaining sanctions against his regime. We are not on the same line with the Arab League. Burrell said. But he added that he would be interested in what the league could achieve with its new position.

At last year’s conference in Brussels, donors pledged $6.7 billion, billions short of the $10.5 billion UN appeal, and were split roughly equally to help Syrians inside the country and refugees. Fifty-seven countries and 30 international organizations are expected to participate in the conference late Thursday or Friday.

Noting the vital importance of cross-border aid to Syrians in the country’s northwest, Faruk Kaymakci said Damascus’ agreement to open two more border crossings with Turkey for the delivery of humanitarian aid was “satisfactory,” adding that they hoped vital access would remain in the area. place for the long term. He said that Turkey supported all international efforts under the UN directives for a political settlement and that Ankara’s recent efforts to normalize relations with Damascus were among those efforts to revive the political process.

return of refugees

Kaymakci says progress in a political settlement would also pave the way for conditions that would encourage the safe and dignified return of Syrian refugees to their country. It is not easy to help Syrian refugees. It is not easy to carry this burden on Turkey and on our Lebanese, Jordanian, Iraqi and Egyptian friends forever. “We expect our partners to focus on creating conditions for the return of refugees as well,” he told the conference.

He also called on developed countries to accept more refugees, but added that the most permanent solution for the displaced Syrians is to provide them with a voluntary and safe return. He also called on those countries to help host countries like Turkey by taking more effective measures to address the issue.

Kaymakci noted that about 560,000 Syrians have safely and voluntarily returned to Syria from Turkey to areas in the war-torn north of the country where stability has been maintained.

Also speaking of EU-Turkey cooperation on migration, in particular the EU’s Facility for Refugees (FRIT) program, Kaymakci said since 2016, the EU has provided 5 billion euros ($5.44 billion) to Syrian refugees in Turkey and decided to allocate an additional 3 billion euros. billion euros for the period from 2021 to 2023, but that was “not enough”.

He said, “We believe that Turkish-European cooperation should continue as long as this crisis continues and we would like to emphasize the need for a more equitable sharing of responsibility with Turkey.”

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