What Happened Over the Weekend

Return of refugees from Denmark to Syria provokes outcry, regime illegally confiscates property, coronavirus cases rise in northeastern Syria despite lockdown. Catch up on everything that happened over the weekend.

A European human rights monitor has expressed grave concern over Denmark’s decision to send 94 Syrian refugees back to Damascus, after declaring that the Syrian capital was “no longer dangerous,” AFP reported. Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor urged the Danish government to reconsider its residency permit judgment and reassess the conditions in Damascus and its countryside. In March, Denmark revoked the residency permits of 94 Syrian refugees living in the Scandinavian nation as it deemed Damascus to be “no longer sufficiently dangerous to give grounds for international protection.” In a statement, the rights group pointed out that Syria is still witnessing war crimes, crimes against humanity and dire living conditions. “We call on Denmark to immediately reconsider this dangerous announcement that signifies a drift in Danish politics towards the far-right,” the group said.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources announced on Saturday that Banyas refinery returned to work in light of the availability of crude oil. The Director-General of the refinery, Mahmoud Qassem, said in a statement to SANA that the refinery has returned to work after a one-month hiatus because of the lack of crude oil, adding that the refinery is operating with good production capacity and producing all oil derivatives. Qassem indicated that citizens will soon notice an improvement in the quantities of oil derivatives in the country.

The Syrian regime is unlawfully confiscating the homes and lands of those who fled the regime and Russian military attacks in Idleb and Hama provinces, Human Rights Watch has said in a report. The watchdog found a pro-regime militia and the regime-controlled Peasants’ Unions to be responsible for seizing and auctioning these lands to regime supporters. “Peasants’ Unions are supposed to help protect farmers’ rights but have become one more tool in the Syrian government’s systematic repression of its own people,” Sara Kayyali, a Syria researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “Aid organizations should ensure that Peasants’ Unions are not providing assistance for farming on stolen land,” she added.

The Kurdish Red Crescent, working in the Autonomous Administration areas of northeast Syria, said that the number of cases of coronavirus has increased seven times over the past month, while the number of critical cases has not decreased in Raqqa, Hassakeh, and Qamishli hospitals despite the imposition of total lockdown. North Press reported that the Red Crescent on Facebook published figures and statistics showing the escalation of the pandemic in the regions of northeast Syria, and the organization also attached a file that included graphs for these statistics. The percentages show the increase in the infection rate in March compared to February by 700 percent, and a 39 percent increase in the mortality rate among people aged 40-59 years old.

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