DAMASCUS: Lebanese and Syrian officials have discussed ways to facilitate the monthly return of 15,000 Syrian refugees to their homeland.
Issam Charafeddine, the visiting minister for the displaced from Lebanon, met with Hussein Makhlouf, the Syrian minister of local administration and the environment, on Monday in Damascus. During their meeting, they discussed the steps Syria has taken to ensure the refugees' safe and prompt return to their home countries based on a timeline agreed upon by both nations, according to reports from local media.
At a joint press conference with the Lebanese Minister, Makhlouf said, "Lebanon and Syria agree on the requirement to enable the return of all refugees to their homes, not merely 15,000 monthly, as mentioned in the proposal submitted by the Lebanese side."
Makhlouf said, the Syrian government has promised to provide all returning Syrian refugees with essential amenities like housing, transport, healthcare, and education.
He said that during the previous few years, the Syrian army had returned significant swaths of territory to peace and stability, and that the government had so far made it possible for 4 million internally displaced persons and 1 million refugees to return home.
He also urged UN agencies to "be an active partner in the return of the displaced, especially when Syria is ready to collaboration with Lebanon and others to assist the return of all the displaced and allow them to actively participate in the rehabilitation effort."
On his part, Charafeddine said that "we discussed our strategy in detail with Syrian authorities who expressed readiness to absorb all refugees and pledged to provide them with needed facilities."