"The embrace of refugees by a number of countries based on moral humanitarian principles, is matched by their exploitation by some countries by turning their humanitarian cause into a political bargaining chip. Instead of working to create the appropriate conditions for their return, they forced them to stay in those countries through temptation at times and intimidation at other times." .
(Bashar al-Assad, from his speech at the Conference on the Return of Refugees, November 2020)
The bombs that bombed the Syrians after their revolution against the Assad regime was only the beginning of their era of torment and suffering, after millions fled towards the diaspora and the unknown after the escalation of the civil war, and while some of them succeeded in reaching safety in an Arab or Western country, the rest were unable to Finding a safe foothold, so they remained displaced, and so some of them chose to return voluntarily to the arms of the Assad regime, while others were dragged to the gates of the homeland under compulsion.
“Karim,” one of those who returned to Syria and whose stories were published by Human Rights Watch, is a 26-year-old Syrian man from the “Daraa” area.
"Karim" worked in Jordan before deciding to return to Syria due to the lack of living and the lack of job opportunities. Although he obtained a security clearance confirming that he was not on the wanted list, he entered the cycle of Assad's detention for months after his return.
Karim was arrested because he sent money from Jordan to support his family, without knowing that the director of the exchange office who received the money turned into a member of the Fourth Division of the regime's army, and then in turn provided the names of all the people who sent money to Daraa from Jordan as wanted, Karim is accused of sending money to support terrorism.
Karim's family tried to reach their forcibly disappeared son, and after exhausting negotiations and arranging an $8,000 bribe for a high-ranking Syrian official last March, the response was shocking: "
Go to hell it's safe
Denmark is the first European country to ask the Syrians to return to their country. It is true that the expulsions of refugees did not actually start for several reasons, the most important of which is the lack of diplomatic relations between Denmark and the Assad regime, but the local authorities are doing all they can to find alternative solutions to help them expel Syrian refugees and return them to their country.
In 2019, the Danish government started stopping the renewal of asylum applications for a number of Syrian families, under the pretext of stopping violence in some areas of Syria, following the restoration of the Assad regime, which was able to regain control of a large part of the country with Russian-Iranian support.
The move was based on a report that the local immigration department worked on in partnership with the government-funded human rights organization Danish Refugee Council.
Denmark’s challenges in the field of receiving Syrian refugees began in 2015, when the country adopted a law to protect people fleeing violence, and the law was detailed in a way that limited the number of admissions;
Of the 35,000 people, only 4,700 were able to obtain temporary protection, which ends once the internal situation in Syria changes.
This is what actually happened after three years, as the situation changed after the Syrian regime was able to control large areas of the country.
The Danish government did not deny news at the time, so it called, through the local immigration department, for the Danish Refugee Council to urgently travel to Damascus in March 2018 to study the new situation. Assad had not completely controlled the area.
Two months later, the Syrian regime announced the control of all of Damascus and its countryside and its surroundings for the first time since 2011, which was immediately followed by a request from the Danish government to re-evaluate the situation as soon as possible, and then a second travel was organized in November in order to prepare a new report on the situation. The security situation in the Syrian capital and its suburbs.
It did not take long, as "Inger Stojberg", the Danish Minister of Immigration, announced the good news for her country when she said: "I am happy that the conditions of some areas in Syria have witnessed a clear improvement, and when there is no need to provide protection, it is necessary to return to the house and participate in building the homeland. ".
A week after the publication of the new report, the Danish Immigration Service announced that it would begin refusing to extend residence permits for refugees from Damascus, and following this type of decision targeting Syrian refugees, the Danish Refugee Council broke its silence after being accused of implementing political agendas in favor of the government. Even if she knew the way in which the government exploits its reports, she would not have refrained from participating in a work that intersects with its field of activity.
Eva Singer, head of the organization's asylum department, commented on these accusations, saying that participation in the report came "in an effort to reduce the amount of inaccurate information that would have been included in the report."
In any case, this Danish move opened the door to speculation that other countries would take the same step by declaring some Syrian regions as safe areas and then expelling the refugees coming from them.
Of course, attention has turned to the countries neighboring Denmark, such as Norway, which hosts 31,000 Syrian refugees, but so far it maintains its tendency not to return the refugees there, as previously stated by Jan Egeland, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council.
While Norway's position is in contrast to Denmark's, Sweden shares the latter's position, even in part, as Stockholm announced in 2019 that some Syrian regions were free of violence, which entailed stopping the automatic acceptance of asylum applications for people from these regions.
Although Sweden did not take actual steps to get rid of the Syrians on its soil, the Sweden Democrats
We don't want new Palestinians
After the outbreak of the Syrian revolution and then the war, Syrians went to dozens of countries around the world, but the countries neighboring Syria, such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, naturally hosted the largest number of them.
Although Turkey hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees, Lebanon and Jordan have the largest proportion of refugees in the world compared to the local population of the two countries. UNHCR figures indicate that Lebanon hosts about 900,000 Syrian refugees, while the government estimates that there are half a million refugees living in Unofficially, Jordan hosts 650,000 registered Syrian refugees.
In the beginning, the two countries opened their doors to Syrians fleeing the war, and adopted a policy of open borders to all (with the exception of the Palestinians who lived in Syria and fled after the war).
However, with the beginning of 2014, the policies of a number of Arab countries tended to restrict the policy of the open door to Syrian asylum. Lebanon did not tolerate the presence of Syrians for a long time for many reasons, including economic problems and high unemployment rates, in addition to the sensitive sectarian structure in Lebanon, especially as it is a politically linked structure course of the Syrian war.
The Lebanese authorities (which are not signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention) refuse to describe the Syrians as refugees, preferring to describe them as “displaced persons.” They also do not have a unified policy to deal with their Syrian neighbors, and therefore the local authorities do not have the freedom to adopt any policies to manage this file.
In May 2019, the restrictions on Syrians began to take more official forms, as the Higher Defense Council, the highest security coordination body in Lebanon, announced measures aimed at pressuring Syrians to voluntarily return to their country, and the Corona pandemic worsened the situation after it imposed 21 A Lebanese municipality has imposed discriminatory restrictions on Syrian refugees, according to a Human Rights Watch report.
The Lebanese government has tried to publicly adhere to the principle of non-refoulement, but the Higher Defense Council announced in May 2019 that all Syrians who entered Lebanon irregularly after April 2019 would be deported by handing them over directly to the Syrian authorities.
The Lebanese authorities have already returned 6,345 Syrians from that announcement until September 2021. Then, in July 2020, the Lebanese government issued a "return plan" in which it declared that parts of Syria were safe, and that the time for the return of the refugees had come.
back to death
Due to the difficult economic, social and health conditions, and the harsh atmosphere in many host countries, returning to Syria has become the only solution for many refugees. Over the past five years, more than a quarter of a million Syrians have returned from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey on their own initiative, the so-called spontaneous return.
Syrians can return to their country through three official ways, the first of which is individual return through land border crossings or airports, and the second is collective return through return operations organized by the Syrian General Security. As for the Syrians of Lebanon, they have a third option, which is to return through operations supervised by Hezbollah in coordination with security Syrian.
Countries that are fed up with the Syrians - as is the case in Lebanon - are trying to convince the refugees that there is no danger in returning to Syria. In 2018, the Lebanese security began working to provide security permits from the Syrian authorities for any refugee who expressed his desire to return, and many refugees believed This matter, and they expressed their willingness to return, however, many human rights reports proved that a number of those who obtained security permits were quickly arrested for months in which they tasted brutal torture, and human rights sources confirmed that the Syrian security services deliberately issue security permits to wanted persons in order to arrest them. .
The journey of returnees usually begins with arrest and detention as soon as they reach the checkpoints under the control of the military factions and security services loyal to Assad, such as the Fourth Division, the elite division of the Syrian forces led by “Maher al-Assad,” the brother of the president of the regime, and the Air Force Intelligence.
Sometimes returnees are lucky. They do not enter the dark basements that are teeming with Syria. However, some of them are eventually taken to a security headquarters as a routine procedure that may end in disappearance for long months, months that may end with death and the disposal of bodies in mass graves where detainees are buried.
A report by Amnesty International stated that Syrian intelligence agents subjected men, women and children to illegal detention, as a direct result of the belief that they belong to the opposition, as they had left the country earlier and preferred to reside in other countries, mostly hostile to the Assad regime.
Amnesty has documented 66 cases of grave violations, including 13 cases of children between the ages of 3 weeks and 17 years.
The human rights organization has also documented cases of sexual assault against children, women and men, including the rape of children aged 5-13 years. A Syrian girl named "Alaa" was told the story of her sexual assault, describing her in obscene terms and accusing her of spying for the Islamic State "ISIS". .
The Syrian regime is the only beneficiary
The Syrian regime has drawn up a return protocol called the "reconciliation system", and stipulates that those wishing to return to Syria, especially opponents or those coming from areas hostile to Assad, must sign a "reconciliation document".
Bashar al-Assad does not hesitate to call on the Syrians to return to the "lap of the homeland", sometimes by intimidation and enticement at other times. The regime in Damascus knows full well that the long road to gaining international legitimacy and restoring international recognition of the Assad regime as the sole representative of the Syrian state may be shortened by the reconstruction of the country and the collection of what is needed. What remains of the displaced people is in order to form a social and popular base that is significant in terms of numbers, provided that it is actually a pliant base that has been exhausted by displacement and asylum, so that its rule will eventually be easier after more than a decade after the outbreak of the Syrian revolution and the civil war that followed it.
The Syrian regime has drawn up a protocol for return, which it called the "reconciliation system", and stipulated that those wishing to return to Syria, especially opponents or those coming from areas hostile to Assad, must sign a "reconciliation document."
The process begins by examining the file of the person wishing to reconcile and tracing the activities he has been involved in, whether humanitarian or military activities.
Reconciliation was initially limited to those who left the country in an “illegal” manner, but over time, the regime began to demand “reconciliation” from everyone, so that it could gather as much information as possible about all those fleeing Syria over the past decade.
Reconciliation differs from the security permit, in which the refugee pays a sum of money to an intermediary between him and the regime, and in which this mediator undertakes to protect and expel him if he is sent to the Syrian torture slaughterhouses.
If the refugee manages to overcome all these obstacles, recruitment remains a nightmare that preys on Syrian youth, especially after the war has exhausted the regime's army.
Among the millions living in Syria, there are thousands of young people who did not perform military service, and some of them refused to enlist to avoid getting involved in the regime’s crimes, such as arbitrary detention, torture and indiscriminate bombing.
Some Syrian youths are trying to use the card to evade forced conscription in order to obtain asylum abroad, although evading conscription is not a sufficient reason to obtain the protection of another country unless it is part of a political or moral stance.
The Syrian regime is currently confirming an amnesty for draft evaders, but several reports have documented that a percentage of returnees found themselves on the draft lists a few days after returning to Syria.
Human Rights Watch reported many stories of families who experienced the suffering of conscription, including the story of the young woman, “Mona,” who was forced to return with her husband to Syria because their daughter was diagnosed with cancer and their inability to provide for the cost of the operation in Lebanon.
The husband had evaded conscription earlier, and after the family returned to Syria, Military Intelligence came to arrest the husband, and he was imprisoned for 9 full months.
Mona's husband was subjected to torture and starvation and was prevented from showering and using the bathroom more than once a day, before he concluded reconciliation and joined the army, refusing to talk about the matter for fear of the reaction of the military authorities.
On the long road to escape that many do not reach, one of the main difficulties experienced by the returning Syrian refugee lies in the loss of his home, which, although the bombs missed him, did not miss the hands of the regime, which has taken over everything in the country as the property of the Assad family and its supporters.
The Syrian government has enacted many laws and policies to confiscate private property without providing any legal justifications or compensation to its owners. The most famous of these laws is Law 10 of 2018, which gave the government the right to confiscate and develop property, in addition to the Anti-Terrorism Law of 2012 that empowered the regime to seize On the origins of the angered families, claiming that they support terrorism.
Syria has known the issuance of more than 40 laws related to housing, land and property since 2011, so refugees today have the option of having their homes completely or partially damaged, or going to the system that will demand a lot in order to return the properties to the owners who fled them.
In addition to housing, there is the economic crisis that returnees face if they are lucky enough to be not in detention.
A report by the Norwegian Refugee Council in March 2021 stated that 20% of the displaced Syrians see the deterioration of the economy as a major factor in their flight from Syria, as the situation of some returnees has reached the complete inability to provide a loaf of bread due to the wheat problem.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Program have estimated that 46% of Syrian families find a way to ensure that their children receive balanced rations of food only by reducing their daily food ration.
Therefore, Syrian families are living a dark nightmare despite fleeing the devastating war, as they are now facing new fears of being forcibly deported to Syria under the pretext of the regime’s control over a number of areas and partially restoring security there, which is the excuse used by some Western and Arab countries to expel the Syrians, who are considered Many of them, any return to the arms of “Assad” is a reminder to death in the notorious Syrian basements, or at least a reminder to a slow death due to starvation and poverty in the world of oppression, violence, hardship and disease that has come to be called today in some Western capitals “safe Syria.”Keywords: