U.N. report finds Syria unsafe for return of refugees

U.N. war crimes investigators on Tuesday said Syria remained unsafe for the return of refugees, Reuters reported, days after Ankara said it was in talks with the international organisation for the return of Syrian refugees in the country.

The overall situation in Syria was found to be increasingly bleak, with hostilities in several areas of the fractured country, its collapsing economy, drying riverbeds and increased attacks by Islamic State (ISIS) militants, according to a report by the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria.

Ten years into the civil war, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed and some 12 million people, more than half the country’s pre-war population, have been displaced. Neighbouring Turkey is home to the largest Syrian migrant population at around 3.7 million.

The civil war, which began as an uprising against President Bashar Assad’s rule, has become markedly more complex a decade on with the inclusion of  jihadists overpowering opposition forces fighting for a democratic country, as well as regional powers like Turkey backing various local forces.

Parties to the conflict ''continue to perpetrate war crimes and crimes against humanity and infringing the basic human rights of Syrians,” according Paulo Pinheiro, chair of the commission, who maintains “the war on Syrian civilians continues, and it is difficult for them to find security or safe haven in this war-torn country.”

The report referred specifically to increased hostilities in northwest Syria, where Turkish-backed groups control swaths of land.

Markets, residential areas and medical facilities have been struck from the air and ground, ''often indiscriminately, causing numerous civilian casualties,’’ the report said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Sunday said Turkey was working with the U.N.’s refugee agency to repatriate Syrians to their home country in remarks that contradict the UNHCR’s overall policy towards returning migrants to the country.

“We are now receiving better support from the international community for the safe return and repatriation of refugees,” AP cited Çavuşoğlu as saying. “We are working to repatriate refugees, especially in Syria, especially with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.”

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