Paulo Pinheiro, Chairperson of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria | Photo: EPA/Salvatore Di Nolfi
Paulo Pinheiro, Chairperson of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria | Photo: EPA/Salvatore Di Nolfi

The war in Syria is still raging, making the country too unsafe for refugees to return, according to UN expert Paulo Pinheiro. He also warned that the winter cold and the coronavirus pose a dire thread to many Syrians.

The conflict in Syria continues and "this is not a time for anyone to be thinking that Syria is safe, for its refugees to return home," Paulo Pinheiro said that on Monday (October 25) at a commitee meeting the UN General Assembly in New York. Pinheiro is the president of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria.

Pinheiro said that since the beginning of the war in Syria over ten years ago, several hundreds of thousands of people had been killed, tens of thousands detained and 12 million displaced. He also said that over 12 million people were suffering from food insecurity.

'War against Syrian people continues'

In their latest report, Pinheiro's commission said that while many states and analysts would prefer to think the Syrian war was ending, the facts on the ground painted another picture.

"The government controls over 70% of the country and president Assad has been re-elected," they noted. "But the reality is that the war against the Syrian people continues."

They found that "millions of civilians continue to be condemned to war, terror and grief. Many of those displaced have seen their properties destroyed or seized by the government, armed groups or terrorist groups -- they have little left to return to and little prospects for their livelihoods."

'Country not safe for return of refugees'

"Winter is coming once again, bringing bitter cold into their makeshift tents", added Pinheiro. "Syrians now face a new wave of the pandemic with only 2.1% of the population fully vaccinated."

The commission's chair stated that the conflict in Syria had not seized. "Instead, we are seeing an upsurge in fighting and violence," Pinheiro said.

He cited an escalation of armed violence reported last summer in the north-west, south, north and east of the country. "Hundreds of thousands of Syrians wake up each morning, worrying about the fate and whereabouts of missing loved ones," he stated.


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