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Damascus creates body to repatriate Syria refugees

AFP  |  Damascus 

is to set up a committee to coordinate repatriating millions of its nationals who fled the country's seven-year conflict, has said.

The cabinet yesterday "agreed to create a coordination body for the return of those displaced abroad to their cities and villages," state agency reported.

The conflict has displaced more than five million Syrians outside the country, the says, with more than half displaced to and most of the rest split between and

The committee "will take the necessary measures to settle the status of all those who were displaced and secure their return as security and return to different regions," said yesterday.

It will take steps towards "ensuring they can lead normal lives and practice their jobs as before the war" which broke out in 2011, it added.

The coordination body is to "intensify contact with friendly countries to provide all facilitations and take suitable steps towards their return", said.

Bashar al-Assad's regime has ousted rebels and jihadists from large parts of since 2015 when its ally launched a military intervention in the country.

But much of lies in ruins, the economy is shattered, and many male refugees voice fear of being drafted into the regime's armed forces.

Last month, presented the with plans for the coordinated return of refugees to

The proposal includes the establishment of working groups in both and Jordan, involving US and Russian officials.

Also in July, Russia's visited Damascus, and

According to the Syrian presidency, Assad told Lavrentiev that "Syria is bent on all its children returning".

In comments to the Russian media, Assad appealed for Syrian refugees -- especially those who had their own businesses in the country -- to return.

Countries hosting Syrians, including and Lebanon, have ramped up demands in recent months for refugees to return to safe areas in their homeland.

Over the same period, hundreds of Syrians have left in organised returns, coordinated between authorities in and

Several thousand have also independently returned home in recent years.

Lebanon's Security agency today announced it had opened 17 centres across the country that would receive applications for Syrians who want to travel back home.

The statement said Syrians in Lebanon could call hotlines and "regularise" their status with authorities in case of outstanding legal or security problems.

It did not provide details on what was needed for applications or under what circumstances they might be rejected.

The agency insisted that returns were voluntary.

Human rights groups have warned that Syrians returning to their homeland should do so voluntarily and with full knowledge of the risks.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, August 06 2018. 20:35 IST