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Russia and Syria hold conference on the return of Syrian refugees


Russia and Syria hold conference on the return of Syrian refugees

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Photo: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

Syrian and Russian delegations will convene today at an international conference in Damascus to discuss the possible return of Syrian refugees to their country.

The conference, planned by the Russian Foreign Ministry, aims to discuss avenues to facilitate the safe return of Syrian refugees. However, the EU and refugees themselves worry that Syria is not yet ready to receive the more than 5.6 million displaced people before there is a political resolution to the nine-year conflict. Likewise, the UN and the US have denounced the conference.

Some countries with large numbers of Syrian refugees—such as Turkey, which hosts 3.4 million Syrian refugees and has already sent some back to Syria’s Afrin region—have not yet confirmed their participation in the conference due to ongoing political disputes. Damascus accuses Ankara, which has backed anti-regime rebels in Syria, of illegally sending troops to Syrian territories administered by rebels.

Despite external challenges facing the conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin has emphasised that the roadmap to peace in Syria runs through Moscow. Thus, expect Moscow and Damascus to work with their partners to return refugees to regime-controlled areas in Syria, despite criticism.

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