Mar 20 2018

German far-right says Syria safe for refugee return

Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) said war-torn Syria is a safe country for refugees to return to after a private visit to the country, Deutsche Welle reported.

Syria could be classified as a safe country of origin, the party said on Monday after a visit earlier this month. A team of seven AfD politicians travelled to Syria in hopes of boosting their party's efforts to send back half a million Syrian refugees currently living in Germany.

The trip, organized by Christian Blex, an AfD state parliamentarian for the western state of Nord Rhine Westphalia, was widely condemned by the German government and other opposition parties. The group met with allies of President Bashar al-Assad on March 6 as part of the visit, Deutsche Welle said.

Blex said that while "there is no dispute that there are still war zones in Syria," there are regions that had not been destroyed at all. The politicians reiterated that Syrian refugees currently living in Germany should be sent back.

AfD parliamentarian Armin-Paulus Hampel said that the German government or the European Union could use funds to "influence" Assad to take back refugees under the condition that critics were not put in jail upon their return.

The conflict in Syria has entered its eighth year. More than 350,000 people have died and millions more displaced internally and internationally, Deutsche Welle said. The war has put global superpowers, including the United States and Russia, on different sides of the conflict.