Syria's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Faisal Al-Mikdad (R) meets with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi (L) and the accompanying delegation in Damascus, Syria, 17 October 2021 | Photo: EPA/YOUSSEF BADAWI
Syria's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Faisal Al-Mikdad (R) meets with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi (L) and the accompanying delegation in Damascus, Syria, 17 October 2021 | Photo: EPA/YOUSSEF BADAWI

The UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi has asked to increase the scope of humanitarian assistance in Syria, including for people who have chosen to return home after being forced to flee elsewhere in the country or abroad.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi reaffirmed in a statement published on October 18 the organization's support to the most vulnerable in Syria. He called for an increase in the scope of humanitarian assistance in the country, including to people who have chosen to return home after years of displacement inside their country or abroad.

Responding to needs is 'humanitarian imperative'

According to the statement, during a two-day mission to Syria that ended on Sunday, Grandi travelled to the town of Talbiseh, in Homs governorate, where he met families who had returned to the town after years of displacement inside Syria or from neighboring Lebanon.

"Families spoke of years of suffering, and they are exhausted. Yet I also witnessed their strength and determination to rebuild their lives. Even if UNHCR and partners helped some of the families I met install doors and windows on their partially damaged homes, they still needed water and electricity. They still need schools and hospitals, and they need to make a living. This is a humanitarian imperative," Grandi said.

"While we wait for political solutions, their lives go on, and we need to support them to have dignified lives," he also stressed.

Over the past 10 years, more than 13 million Syrians were forced to flee. Around 6.7 million are displaced inside the country and 5.5 million are hosted in five neighboring countries in the region.

Attention for return of the displaced

During the mission, Filippo Grandi met with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad and Minister of Local Administration and Environment Hussein Makhloud, and discussed issues related to return, including how to respond to the needs of refugees.

"These are Syrian nationals. And it's the government's responsibility to ensure their security," said the High Commissioner.

"We are engaging with the government to highlight refugees' concerns such as safety, property rights and livelihoods. We also need the international community to help as well, to provide much-needed resources so that people can also fix their damaged homes, have running water, health care and send their children to school. Sustainable returns require collaboration from all concerned parties. We must also ensure robust support to refugees and hosting countries," he added.

 

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