(Amman) A “consultative” meeting on Syria brought together heads of diplomacy from countries in the region in Amman on Monday to discuss ways to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees from neighboring countries and restore state control.
“The voluntary and safe return of Syrian refugees to their country is an absolute priority”, according to the final communiqué of this meeting, which was attended by the foreign ministers of Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt.
“Measures must be taken immediately” to enable this return, and enhanced cooperation between Syria, refugee-hosting countries and the United Nations is needed to organize voluntary return operations, the statement said.
According to the UN, some 5.5 million Syrian refugees are registered in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.
The government in Damascus should “improve public services in areas of return”, according to participants who expressed support for “Syria and its institutions in all legitimate efforts to restore its control over its territory, to enforce the rule of law and to put an end to the presence of armed and terrorist groups […] and to external interference”.
The meeting focused on “the humanitarian aspect and measures to alleviate the suffering of the brotherly Syrian people”, said Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.
It follows the one organized in mid-April in Saudi Arabia on Bashar al-Assad’s Syria, which is trying to end more than a decade of diplomatic isolation.
Damascus was diplomatically isolated after the 2011 crackdown on a popular uprising that sparked a devastating conflict.
If Syria is still excluded from the Arab League, several Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia have recently returned to its regime.
His reintegration into the pan-Arab organization, however, continues to divide Arab countries.
The war in Syria has claimed around half a million lives. Nearly half of Syrians are now refugees or internally displaced, and swathes of the territory still escape government control.