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Syria Today – Quadripartite Meeting on Wednesday; Denmark Deems Parts of Syria Safe

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.
Syria Today – Quadripartite Meeting on Wednesday; Denmark Deems Parts of Syria Safe

Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister Burak Akcapar and his Syrian counterpart Ayman Susan will meet in Moscow on Wednesday for two days as a part of efforts to improve Syrian-Turkish relations.

The two-day talks, North Press reported, will be hosted by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, with the participation of the Iranian side represented by Ali-Ashgar Khaji, a senior aide to Iran’s foreign minister.

During the talks this week, the four parties will try to overcome differences between Syria and Turkey in a bid to pave the way for a meeting between Syrian and Turkish foreign ministers under the four-way format.

The Turkish delegation will focus on “counterterrorism issue, the revival of the political process in Syria and continuation of the constitutional committee meetings,” Russian news agency TASS reported, citing diplomatic sources.

Half of Syria’s population faces hunger as conflict passes 12-year milestone and earthquakes deepen economic woes

An average monthly wage in Syria currently covers about a quarter of a family’s food needs, the UN World Food Programme said today, highlighting an urgent need for increased humanitarian assistance as the country grapples with the devastating impact of recent earthquakes and a 12-year-long conflict, a UN official website reports.

Some 12.1 million people, more than 50% of the population, are currently food insecure, and a further 2.9 million are at risk of sliding into hunger. Meanwhile, recent data show that malnutrition is on the rise, with stunting and maternal malnutrition rates reaching levels never seen before.

“Bombardment, displacement, isolation, drought, economic meltdown, and now earthquakes of staggering proportions. Syrians are remarkably resilient, but there’s only so much that people can take,” says Kenn Crossley, WFP Country Director in Syria. “At what point does the world say enough?”

The recent earthquakes have highlighted the urgent need for increased humanitarian assistance in Syria, not only for people hit by the earthquakes but also for those who were already grappling with sky-rocketing food prices, a fuel crisis, and consecutive climate shocks. Food and fuel prices are at their highest in a decade after years of inflation and currency devaluation.

Stunting rates among children have reached 28 percent in some parts of the country, and maternal malnutrition prevalence 25 percent in north-east Syria.

A country that used to be self-sufficient in food production now ranks among the six countries with the highest food insecurity in the world, with heavy dependency on food imports. Damaged infrastructure, high cost of fuel and drought-like conditions have slashed Syria’s wheat production by 75 percent.

Without sufficient resources, WFP will have to drastically reduce the number of beneficiaries it serves from July onwards, leaving millions of people in deep need without food assistance.

“‘The world has now forgotten us. That’s what we hear from many Syrians, and it’s a stark reminder that we need to do more,” said WFP’s Regional Director for the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe, Corinne Fleischer. “We need the funds to continue to provide food for millions of families — until Syrians can feed themselves again.”

Syrian women face ‘reproductive health crisis’ in northwest

Syria’s conflict and attacks on hospitals have had a “disproportionate impact” on the reproductive health of women and girls in the rebel-held northwest, a report said Tuesday.

“Twelve years of impunity for attacks on health care have exacerbated a sexual and reproductive health crisis in Syria,” said Houssam al-Nahhas, co-author of the report released by four groups.

“The fundamental human right to health – including being able to deliver a baby safely, to bring new life to the world – has been routinely violated in northwest Syria, where bombs have rained down on hospitals.”

The report was compiled by aid and campaign groups, including the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Physicians for Human Rights.

A devastating earthquake that killed tens of thousands in Turkey and Syria last month only accelerated “the collapse of the fragile health care system” in the war-torn country’s northwest, the groups said.

A surge in displacements and damage to infrastructure and limited health services “will likely impact as many as 148,000 pregnant women, 37,000 of whom are due to give birth in the next three months”, they added, citing United Nations figures.

“A high number of pregnant women” avoid prenatal care and prefer to undergo cesarean sections instead of natural birth in part “to reduce the time spent inside a health care facility”, it added.

Human rights groups have accused the Syrian government and its ally Russia of deliberately targeting medical facilities in rebel-held areas, a claim both Damascus and Moscow have denied.

Denmark’s declaration of parts of Syria as ‘safe’ is dangerous for refugees

The Danish Immigration Service declared two more areas of government-controlled Syria as “safe” for refugees to return to. Rights groups say it is another way to make refugees unwelcome.

An announcement by the Danish Immigration Service declaring two more areas of government-controlled Syria as “safe” for return could set a precedent with disastrous humanitarian consequences for other Syrian nationals in Denmark, the organization Human Rights Watch said today.

“It is another demonstration of Denmark sinking to the bottom of its refugee rights responsibilities. Denmark is so obsessed with carving out parts of Syria as safe. There is no guarantee of a safe and dignified return to Syria,” Nadia Hardman, a researcher in the Refugee and Migrants Rights Division of Human Rights Watch told InfoMigrants.

Last week, the Danish Immigration Service announced that the situation in Tartous and Latakia had improved, signaling that Syrian refugees from these areas may lose their temporary protection in Denmark and be forced to return home.

‘No part of Syria is safe’

While parts of Syria have not seen active fighting since 2018, human rights organizations, the Syria UN Commission of Inquiry, as well as various media reports have all documented continued arbitrary arrests, detention, torture and ill-treatment, involuntary or enforced disappearances, and summary executions.

Last year, Amnesty International released a report, saying that Syrian intelligence officers have subjected women, children, and men returning to Syria to unlawful or arbitrary detention, torture, and other ill-treatment including rape and sexual violence, and enforced disappearance.

“No part of Syria is safe for return, including Damascus or the Damascus area, and people who have left Syria since the beginning of the conflict are at real risk of suffering persecution upon return,” said the human rights organization Amnesty International.

Human Rights Watch released a 72-page report, ‘Our Lives Are Like Death’: Syrian Refugee Returns from Lebanon and Jordan, with similar findings.

On the Syrian side

The People’s Assembly held Tuesday its session headed by Speaker Hamouda Sabbagh, approving the draft law that includes amending some articles of Law No. 2 of 2014, SANA reported.

The draft law includes regulating the entry, exit and residence of Arabs and foreigners, and it has become a law after been approved.

According to the draft, Arabs and foreigners who are on Syrian territory are exempted from holding a passport in specific cases, including “a person holds an expired passport and there is no diplomatic representation for his country in Syria”, or “whose passport is issued late or has been refused to be renewed by his country’s embassy,” or those who “have refugee cards in Syria and do not hold a passport, along with those who have an expired passport that could not be renewed.

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