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FM, UNHCR commissioner talk steps for voluntary refugee return

By JT - Aug 23,2023 - Last updated at Aug 23,2023

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi meets with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi in Amman on Tuesday (Petra photo)

AMMAN — Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi on Tuesday stressed the need to take practical and immediate steps to create a conducive environment for the voluntary return of Syrian refugees to their country, calling on relevant UN agencies to launch these steps immediately.

Receiving United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi, Safadi stressed that the future of Syrian refugees is in their own country and not in Jordan, which necessitates focusing efforts on providing decent living conditions for refugees in Syria, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

The minister added that providing these conditions for the return of Syrian refugees to their country is a key priority that the Kingdom would continue to develop with full cooperation.

He added that realising agreements that can guarantee the security and safety of returning refugees with the Syrian government, and creating the environment necessary to ensure a decent life for them by the international community and UN organisations are paths that must be pursued in parallel to meet the requirements of voluntary return.

They also discussed the outcomes of talks being held by the Kingdom and UNHCR with the Syrian government to agree on the required guarantees and with the international community to establish the infrastructure necessary to provide refugees with services, living and economic needs.

Safadi stressed the need to continue working with the Syrian government and the international community to provide the requirements for the return of some 1,000 Syrian refugees as a model that would establish and encourage a comprehensive plan for the voluntary return of refugees.

The minister stressed the need to launch an international fund to build the necessary infrastructure for the return of refugees and secure their requirements in Syria.

Safadi and Grandi went over the “dangerous repercussions” of the decline in international support for refugees and host countries in terms of providing living, medical and educational services to refugees.

In this regard, Safadi said that Jordan has exceeded its ability to host refugees, and would not be able to maintain the level of services it provides to them if the international community did not honour its commitments to them, and if UN organisations did not continue to shoulder their responsibilities towards them.

The minister referred to the shared responsibility of meeting the needs of refugees between the international community and host countries, adding that it is unacceptable for the international community's support for refugees to drop and expect host countries to shoulder the burden of refugees alone.

He noted that international funding for Jordan's response plan to provide for this year's refugee needs was only 6.8 per cent, and that the World Food Programme and UNHCR had seriously reduced their services and assistance to refugees.

Jordan hosts some one million Syrians, only 10 per cent of whom live in refugee camps, according to the statement.

Meanwhile, Safadi stressed the need to intensify efforts to find a political solution to the crisis in Syria and to address all its humanitarian, security and political consequences, and to end the suffering caused to the Syrian people.

In this context, he stressed the importance of investing in the Arab path to solve the crisis through concrete practical steps in accordance with the step-by-step methodology, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 to ensure Syria's unity, cohesion and sovereignty, and meet the rights and aspirations of its people.

For his part, Grandi praised Jordan's significant humanitarian role in hosting refugees and providing them with a decent living.

Safadi and Grandi also went over preparations for the 2023 Global Refugee Forum, to be co-organised by Jordan, France, Japan, Colombia, Uganda and Niger, and hosted by Switzerland and UNHCR in Geneva in December.


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