The Main Reasons behind Unwillingness of People Displaced from Deir Ezzor to Return to the Areas of Control of the Syrian Regime in the Province

Introduction:

Thousands of displaced people from Deir Ezzor are still far from their original areas after the displacement began in 2012. The province has witnessed massive waves of displacement, 2012, 2014 and 2017 were the most prominent stations of the displacement waves.

In 2012, aerial bombardment by Syrian regime forces began on the densely populated city of Deir Ezzor, forcing tens of thousands to displacement. In 2014, after the control of ISIS over most of the province, civilians, elements of the armed factions (FSA) and civil activists displaced. In 2017, during the battles of the regime forces to regain the control of the areas out of its control, most of the civilians in these areas displaced.

Displaced persons are settled in the governorates of Idleb, Damascus, Al-Hasaka, Aleppo countryside and areas under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces in Deir Ezzor governorate.

Return and Regularization of Statues:

The Syrian government proposed to the displaced persons the return to their homes in the areas under its control and regularization of their status. This means signing a bunch of papers by which they undertake not to participate in any “sabotage act or carry weapon against the state (Syria)’’.

In a report issued by Justice for Life Organization on February 7, 2019 which included statements of some of the people returned to the areas under control the Syrian regime and regularized their statues. Their statements included the conditions that forced them to return as well as to declaration of majority of them that they don’t trust the regime as they don’t know what they could face in the future. They as well expressed, instability of the family as a part of the family returned while another part remained in the areas of displacement.

Many people who had not contributed in any acta against the Syrian State (regime), upon their return faced charges as those who had contributed in acts against the State (regime). The charges included dealing with ISIS, sabotages and affiliation to terrorist groups.

What are the reasons to stay in the areas of displacement?

Despite the difficulties facing the people displaced from Deir Ezzor, the option of return is still an excluded option as they seek to stay away from the areas under control of the Syrian regime.

17 People[1] displaced from Deir Ezzor who are currently residing in different areas inside Syria, talked to Justice for Life about the reasons that prevents them from returning to the areas under control of the Syrian regime.

The following can summarize what the witnesses has said:

Security reasons:

The Syrian security services pursue all those who participated in anti-government actions, whatever the nature of this action. Considering the Syrian government’s record of human rights violations, those who are wanted by security services prefer to stay away from the areas under control of the Syrian regime.

Khattab Said “I fear for myself and my family from the forces controlling Deir Ezzor, as we may be subjected to arrest and torture’’. It’s worth mentioning that Khattab did not participate in any anti-government action, but still he is not willing to return to Deir Ezzor as he doesn’t trust the Syrian Government’s (Regime’s) promises.

Yusuf is a dissident from the regime army- refuses to return because he is wanted by the security services as he carried weapon against the regime, he does not trust the reconciliation with the government.

“I will not return, I know the regime, my fate will be the death once I return,” says Mahmoud, who has been in a voluntary service in the rows of the Syrian army for 10 years.

Although there is nothing prevents Basil from returning, the fact that his children joined the armed factions (FSA) makes him prefer to stay.

Muhammad didn’t join any of the armed factions. However, after attempts to find out whether he is wanted or not, he learned that he is accused of being terrorist and that he is offered the reconciliation by people who are close to the government, but he refused to return and decided to remain in the areas under control of Syrian Democratic Forces.

Abu Ibrahim says: “I do not trust the regime forces or the militias, and I fear for my sisters and women relatives in the event of my return.”

Mandatory Service in the Syrian Army:

According to the Legislative Decree No. 30 / year 2007, the military service means: “The duties of every Syrian citizen regarding the defense of the homeland. Its divided to two types: Compulsory service and Reserve service.”

What is meant by the compulsory service: “the duration that the obliged spends it for the service of the armed forces.”

What is meant by the reserve service: “The duties of the obliged who completed compulsory service”.

After years of war, many of the people of Deir Ezzor do not want to join the Syrian army for fear of being killed and the violations they may commit as a result of the orders of the army leadership (Commanders). This is one of the main reasons why the youth refused to return to the areas of control of the Syrian government.

Lateef says: for me there are many reasons for not returning, including fear for myself and my brothers from joining the compulsory military service.”

Ismail has 4 children, all of whom are wanted for compulsory service, he doesn’t want to make a decision that could causes suffering to his children, as he said

Muhammad says “I do not want to go to compulsory service now because I do not want to be killed. I do not believe anyone who says that the war is over”.

Basheer cannot return because his brothers are wanted for the compulsory service. However, because of his inability to afford for living in the displacement area and his mother’s illness and her need to travel for 20 hours to reach Damascus to receive treatment, he decided to return after his brothers’ entrance to Turkey.

 

 Lack of job opportunities and damage to homes of some displaced persons:

Six people interviewed by the Justice for Life Organization spoke of their ability to secure jobs in the areas of displacement and that the return means to relay-on monthly salary provided by the government for the employees which is not sufficient for the family.

Baraa said “The lack of job opportunities, high prices and damage of my house as a result of the shelling, and the presence of many of my relatives, made me delay the decision to return until further notice”.

Asaad receives a monthly salary of 10 times what he can get from the government in the event of his return, the thing that enables him to secure a decent life for his mother and brothers that is why he prefers to stay in the area of displacement.

Ranya said ‘’The reason behind my stay is that my house in the areas under control of the Syrian regime has damaged as well as to that I’m getting a good salary as a teacher in one of the schools in the area of displacement.

Many of the displaced do not have the money required to return. According to Khaled ‘’ The person wishing to return has to pay to the mediators in exchange for facilitating reconciliation process as well as to that s/he needs the costs for the restoration of his/her house.’’

Omar who works in trade reported from his brother who as well works in trade in the areas under control of the Syrian regime; ‘’the income is very low and insufficient for me’’ (his brother), this what encouraged Omar to stay in the areas of displacement and continue the trade activities that he started in 2014 which caused the improvement of his economic conditions.

Only the walls of Assem’s house remained (all his furniture has been stolen). He can’t take the furniture that he owns in the area of displacement to there, because the regime forces demand big amount of money to allow him to bring his furniture, and he does not have the money to do so. “I watch the people in queues to get fuel and gas in relatively quiet cities such as Damascus, I can’t imagine how the things will be in Deir Ezzor which newly entered under control of the Syrian regime” said Assem.

Conclusion:

The continuation of displacement situation leads to many difficulties;

Most notably the dispersal of families between residents in government control areas and others living in areas of displacement. The inability of IDPs to obtain official documents such as that they can’t register new births only after payment of large sums of money. Many students are out of school. The lack of stability, especially with the uncertainty of the future of areas out of the control of the Syrian regime forces. All the above-mentioned issues lead some of the people to think about moving to safer areas that may be outside of Syria.

[1] All names in the report are pseudonyms due the request of witnesses for security reasons

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