Azraq Refugee Camp, Jordan (Photo Credit: (Middle East Eye/Arwa’ Debaja)
A plan for Turkey and Jordan to facilitate the voluntary return of Syrian refugees was discussed by the foreign ministers of both countries on 2 March during a bilateral meeting in Ankara.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu suggested hosting a conference of government ministers to discuss the repatriation of Syrian refugees.
Turkey hosts over 3.7 million registered refugees while Jordan hosts about 1.8 million.
Approximately 1.5 million refugees from Syria live in neighboring Lebanon, which is in the midst of economic collapse.
“We will continue our cooperation with international institutions such as the United Nations and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation,” Turkey’s top diplomats told reporters.
On 5 April 2021, the Russian-Syrian interdepartmental coordination headquarters issued a joint statement accusing the US of intentionally setting up obstacles for the return of Syrian refugees to their country.
The statement declared that “despite the colossal efforts the Syrian authorities have taken to create favorable conditions for the return of their citizens to their homes, the US and its allies continue to implement a whole set of measures including an unprecedented propaganda outreach campaign at keeping the refugees on the territory of Syria’s neighboring countries.”
They asserted that the US benefits from instability in Syria as it serves to justify its illegal occupation as well as its theft of oil and other resources from the war torn country.
A recent investigation by The Cradle into the plight of Syrian refugees reveals that their tragic circumstances have been exploited for political gain.
“After the catastrophic 2019 economic collapse of the country, nine out of ten Syrian refugees fell below the extreme poverty line, with half of these suffering food insecurity,” the analysis notes.
The analysis went on to note that by the end of 2014 Lebanon had decided to stop accepting Syrian refugees, but that the UNHCR exploited political differences within the government, and continued to register Syrian refugees crossing the border into Lebanon.
According to the analysis, the plight of Syrian refugees is being abused by the strategic interests of the US and its allies in Lebanon as an alternative avenue for placing economic pressures on the crisis-hit nation.
Western powers do not have similar policies of economic pressure on Turkey or Jordan, making it unclear if the US will pursue similar policies of placing obstacles to the return of refugees to Syria or not.