Q&A Raed Saleh

The head of Syria Civil Defence, a volunteer force better known as the White Helmets, argues that money for reconstruction must not be allowed to fund a corrupt regime

The World Today Updated 9 November 2020 Published 7 December 2018 2 minute READ

Some countries – Lebanon, Jordan, even Turkey – are keen for Syrian refugees to return home. What do you say to them?

Under current circumstances I don’t think there will be a lot of refugees who will want to return. There are opinion polls that say 58 per cent of the refugees might like to return if there was a safe environment in Syria − but not now.

The treatment of refugees is different from one country to another. We know that Lebanon is using militias, Hezbollah and others, to exert pressure and scare the refugees. Without international pressure, Lebanon would have forced all the refugees back and would have handed over many of them to the [Assad] regime. Of course, the economy is very bad in Lebanon now.

Do you think Bashar al-Assad wants the refugees to return?

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.