The fourth Syrian-Russian Joint Meeting kicked off in Damascus on Tuesday to return Syrian refugees to their country.
The meeting occurred as more Syrians living in regime-held regions seek to immigrate.
As it toured Damascus in recent weeks, Asharq Al-Awsat learned that thoughts of immigration preoccupied the people the most, especially the youth.
A woman in her 40s revealed that she has been visiting a real estate firm after real estate firm to sell her house for a month.
She told Asharq Al-Awsat that she wanted to secure enough money for her only son to travel to Europe and “save himself from the tragedy we are living.”
She was met with poor offers to sell her home with firms seeking to exploit her desperation.
Despite this, she vowed to sell her house and all her belongings to ensure that her son gets to leave.
“Why should we stay here? To eat a single meal a day? Run around to secure a loaf of bread or a gas canister? I will make sure he leaves, and I will follow him, no matter the cost,” she said.
At a shoe store in Damascus, a youth said his salary of 300,000 pounds (Equivalent to $75 on the market rate) was not enough to support him.
“I am not married. What would it be like if I were?” he wondered. “Where would I get money to pay for rent? How would I buy furniture? The future is bleak. There is no future for us here.”
The solution lies in immigration, he added. “Living in the worst countries is better than living here.”
He revealed that he was contacting relatives and friends in Egypt to help him immigrate there.
Sources revealed that the cost of immigration to Egypt ranges between 1,500 and 2,000 dollars, while the cost jumps to 15,000 to 20,000 if one were to take the smuggling route to Europe.
The fourth Syrian-Russian Joint Meeting aims to follow up on the International Conference on Return of Syrian Refugees and Displaced.
Damascus and Moscow estimated that 2.326 million Syrians, including the internally displaced, had returned to their homes. Observers have, however, dismissed the figure as inaccurate.
One observer, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity, said: “Those refugees aren’t crazy. They wouldn’t return home.”
“Why would they come back? What do they have here that would prompt them to return?” he asked.
Another observer said Damascus and Moscow were trying to make it seem that Syria is safe for the refugees to return so that this file will be dropped or forgotten by the international community and United Nations.
They noted how the regime had used the same tactic when it announced a presidential amnesty earlier this year.
The pardon was hailed by UN envoy Geir Pedersen, even though only 1,200 people were released, while the fate of over 125,000 detainees remains unknown.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.