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In an interview with Syria Direct about the return of refugees to Syria, Dr Ali Ali states that “It simply isn’t safe for refugees to return yet.” Describing the “myriad of obstacles they face”, he highlights the “serious security vetting or collective punishment” that many of those who left Syria “will be subject to” on return, and the “decimated infrastructure” of water, food and public services in areas that are not government-controlled. He argues that since the Syrian government does not have the resources for reconstruction, it would like the people to return so it “can extract resources from them” and “re-legitimize” itself in the eyes of the international community. He states: “The more people return, the greater the demands the Syrian government can make on the international community.”

The interview also discusses what effects Law 10, which ‘allows the Syrian government to designate areas for reconstruction’, may have on returning refugees, particularly if they are from opposition areas or have homes built on government-held land without permits. Ali comments: “I think that what we’re going to see is even more displacement… it’s not clear that Syrians returning will be able to return to their properties, to keep their properties, especially in opposition areas.”

Read the interview here

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