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Russia To Co-Sponsor Damascus Conference on Syrian Refugees as Step in Reconstruction

Oct. 30, 2020 (EIRNS)—Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Special Envoy to Syria Alexander Lavrentiev yesterday, who headed a high-level delegation to Damascus from Moscow’s Foreign and Defense Ministries, according to Syria’s official news agency SANA. “Talks during the meeting dealt with the upcoming international refugees conference scheduled to be held in Damascus next November and the efforts made by both sides for the conference to come up with positive results that contribute to alleviating the suffering of Syrian refugees and allowing them to return to their homeland and their normal life, especially in light of what has been achieved in terms of restoring security and stability to most of the Syrian territory,” SANA wrote. In her Oct. 22 Foreign Ministry briefing, Maria Zakharova announced that Syria had planned the conference for Nov. 11-12 in Damascus, which would be co-sponsored by the Russian Federation.

There are reportedly 5.6 million Syrians who have fled their country in wartime, and another 6 million internally displaced, according to AP. The Syrian government of Assad now controls areas of the country that contain some 85-90% of Syria’s population. The return of refugees, as well as internally displaced people would stabilize the process further, and set the stage to take the economic and physical reconstruction of Syria. It could also possibly move forward the stalled peace process in the UN. But there appear to be nations in the West, including the United States, and also Turkey, that oppose that.

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said,

“the forum will provide a platform for substantive dialogue with all stakeholders on all issues related to providing assistance to Syria’s refugees returning home. Unfortunately, we are forced to say that due to the anti-Syrian bias, a number of colleagues had immediately started to discredit the humanitarian initiative.”

U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Mills, asserted Oct. 28 that the return of refugees, some of whom have been out of the country for years, is “completely premature.” He portrayed the Assad government as unstable, urging nations to boycott the conference and the possibility for peace.

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