The refugee conference hosted November 11-12 in Damascus by the Assad regime and Russia was not a credible attempt to create the conditions necessary for voluntary and safe refugee returns to Syria. The lack of support for this conference beyond the regime’s narrow group of allies demonstrates that the world recognizes stunts like this one for what they are – mere theatrics.
Regrettably, the Assad regime, with Russian backing, is seeking to use millions of vulnerable refugees as political pawns in an attempt to falsely claim that the Syrian conflict is over. The Assad regime is responsible for the deaths of over 500,000 of its own citizens, the bombing of numerous hospitals, and the denial of humanitarian support to millions of Syrian citizens. These are not the actions of a government that can be trusted to determine when refugees might safely return, nor should Assad hold power over directing international reconstruction funds.
The United States supports the return of refugees when conditions allow for them to return voluntarily and safely. We stand with the countries that continue to host millions of refugees. The United States remains the single largest humanitarian donor to the Syria crisis. Over the last year, the United States provided nearly $1.6 billion in humanitarian assistance to address the Syria crisis, half of which supports the needs of Syrian refugees and the generous communities that host them. This includes more than $121 million to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our total humanitarian assistance for the crisis response inside Syria and across the region since the start of the conflict is more than $12 billion.
The United States remains committed to the Syrian people and to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254, which is the only path to a political solution to the Syrian conflict.