Remarks by Chargé d’affaires at the Syrian Negotiations Commission Conference on Refugees

Remarks by Chargé d’affaires Mark Cassayre at the Syrian Negotiations Commission Conference on Refugees

Geneva, January 22, 2021

It is quite an honor to be here today. Thank you for organizing the conference, it is timely and critical. Ambassador Dabbagh, Ms. Kabawat, Dr. Abdah, my fellow ambassadors, colleagues, friends, it is truly an honor to be with you today.

I especially want to honor our participants today from Syria, those of you who have lived through the horrors of this war and have had no choice but to flee the harsh brutality of the Assad regime and the ruthless campaign it is waging on its own people; you who have sought only to protect yourselves, your families, and loved ones by seeking safety in a land not your own.

I also offer my most sincere respect and thanks to those of you who have dedicated your lives to helping these refugees, helping them survive day-to-day, helping them get back on their feet, and helping them navigate the foreign communities they find themselves in. Your service and dedication are the true spirit and meaning of compassion and what humanitarian assistance should embody.

I also thank the representatives of those countries who host our Syrian friends, including Turkey, who, as the ambassador rightly said, shares the largest burden of any of us, and others such as Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Egypt. Thank you for all you have done for your Syrian brothers and sisters, and for reminding us that we are all members of the same human family that need to look after each other in times of need.

We, the United States, remain committed to doing our part. Since the beginning of the war, we have contributed over $12.2 billion dollars to provide vital humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people, wherever they may be found. And we will continue to support the Syrian people until that time when Syrians can return to their homes voluntarily, safely, and in dignity.

The United Nations has been clear that conditions conducive to returns have not currently been met in Syria, indeed are far from being met. We oppose any efforts to pressure Syrians to return home before those conditions are met.

On this point I want to be extremely clear: any refugee returns must be voluntary, must be well-informed, and must take place in safety and dignity to the place of their origin or choosing.

An enduring solution to the Syrian conflict that will help pave the way for sustainable refugee returns is only possible through the political process outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 2254. As long as the Assad regime effectively ignores every aspect of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, we are unlikely to see significant progress on conditions conducive to large-scale refugee returns.

Thank you very much, and I look forward to hearing from our speakers today. Once again thank you for organizing this discussion.