UN awaits details of US-Russia plan on Syrian refugees

By Edward Haddad

BEIRUT (AA) – The UN refugee agency UNHCR is awaiting for details of a U.S.-Russian plan on the return of Syrian refugees, a UNHCR spokeswoman in Lebanon said Sunday.

“A UNHCR team is communicating with Syrians in Lebanon and we have a team in Syria,” Lisa Abou Khaled told Anadolu Agency.

Moscow and Washington were reportedly discussing a joint plan to jointly organize the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland following agreements between the Russian and American leaders during their summit talks in Helsinki last month.

As for the return of refugees to their areas, Abou Khaled said “some of those who returned could not go back to their homes and some others went to live with their relatives.”

“Regarding the security situation, we do not have sufficient data,” the spokeswoman said, going on to assert the UN agency’s relations with the Lebanese government were good.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil has earlier accused the UNHCR of hampering the return of Syrian refugees in Lebanon to their war-torn country, an accusation denied by the UN agency.

There are around 997,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, according to UN figures. This figure, however, does not include refugees who are not officially registered with the UNHCR.

Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.

Tens of thousands have been killed and millions displaced in the seven-year conflict, according to UN figures.

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