11/01/2019, 12.31
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International community fully backs Syria’s Constitutional Committee

The Committee is meeting under the aegis of the United Nations in Geneva. A “safe and neutral environment” is essential to “enable Syria to hold free and fair elections”. An appeal is made for the ceasefire in Idlib. At least 40 refugee families left Lebanon to return to Syria.

Geneva (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The international community has welcomed the start of talks on Syria under UN auspices.

The meeting began on Wednesday in Geneva (Switzerland) focusing on the work of the Constitutional Committee whose mandate is to draft a new national charter and pacify a country ravaged by more than eight years of conflict.

In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia saluted UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Special Envoy Geir Pedersen for their efforts on Syria.

“We support efforts to create a safe and neutral environment that enables Syria to hold free and fair elections, under UN supervision,” the statement said, adding the political solution in the war-weary country should be based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

The statement goes on to call for an immediate ceasefire in Idlib, the last jihadi and rebel stronghold in the north of the country, scene in the last weeks of the regular Syrian army's offensive.

An official note from President Bashar al-Assad just announced the end of military operations in the area.

The Constitutional Committee includes 150 members representing the Syrian population, including the Kurds. It took two years to set up, and includes three groups of 50 people, representing the government, the opposition and civil society.

A smaller working group of 45 people responsible for drafting the constitution reflects the same division as the Constitutional Committee as a whole.

The decisions taken by the group must then be approved by the Committee itself, with a majority equal to or greater than 75 per cent. The basis for the draft is the 2012 Syrian Constitution.

Meanwhile, Syrian refugees are slowing returning, as the situation on the ground improves a bit.

This morning, 40 refugee families left Lebanon to return to Syria as part of a "voluntary" operation. Four buses crossed the border at Masnaa travelling to Mouadamiya, near Daraya (Damascus).

On 10 October, Lebanese President Michel Aoun spoke of 276,000 Syrian displaced people who had already returned to their country of origin. However, the number is hard to confirm since in many cases refugees travel to Syria and then come back soon after to the countries of exile, like Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.

Recently, the Lebanese government increased pressure on refugees to leave in the face of an emergency that has become unsustainable for a country of 4 million inhabitants forced to accommodate up to 1.5 million refugees.

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