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UN commissioner calls for stepping up efforts for voluntary return of Syrian refugees

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said that Assad regime and international donors should step up the efforts for safe voluntary return of Syrians.

Grandi stated that he could not direct the western countries on how to deal with the Assad regime, but these countries could fund humanitarian work via relief organizations inside Syria.

Grandi added that we cannot have the cake and eat it, so we have to invest if we want solutions and expand these investments to create conditions and encourage refugees to return.

Regarding refugees’ return issue, Grandi confirmed that it is slow progress and it could only happen if the refugees felt safe in Syria and provided them with basics such as housing and jobs, according to Reuters agency.

Reuters quoted the UN High Commissioner for refugees as saying that it told the Assad last year that “he has a huge gap confidence with his people who need convincing they can trust him.”

Grandi stressed that Western aid donors also play an important role, by providing more funding for projects inside Syria.

Grandi pointed out that UNHCR has a program in Syria, but it is not well funded, and that one of the main programs received only between 30% and 35% of the required funding.

Grandi considered that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict demonstrated “what happens if refugee issues are left unaddressed, because if we leave them unattended, they come back with a vengeance.”

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