The Syrian British Council (SBC) strongly condemns the decree signed by Prime Minister Hussein Arnous on July 8th that necessitates returning Syrians exchange $100 or other Central Bank approved hard currencies into Syrian Lira. Citizens exchanged money loses about half of its value in accordance with customs and aviation authorities’ rates, which is directly pocketed by the regime. The decree only exempts Syrians under 18 and public vehicle drivers.
The Syrian Ministry of Finance and the Syrian Cabinet proposed the decree in response to severe economic sanctions imposed by the US, known as the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act aims to promote accountability for the ruthless violence against the Syrian people by the Assad regime. Combined with an economy driven into collapse, the Syrian regime is in dire need for increased solvency through hard currency.
The decree will be extremely damaging to Syrians wanting to return home. Hard currency is increasingly difficult to obtain in neighbouring Lebanon. Furthermore, many Syrian refugees do not have the equivalent of $100 for each adult family member to enter Syria. Innumerable individuals are now stuck on the borders in perilous circumstances. It is reported that a 17-year-old girl died on the 5th September as a direct result of being stranded on the border between Lebanon and Syria without money to enter her home nation.
‘’It is utterly inconceivable for a government to pose administrative and financial obstacles in the path of its own citizens just because they want to return or enter their home country.’’ SBC Chairman, DR. Haytham Alhamwi said. The decree explicitly juxtaposes Article 38 of the Syrian Constitution which states that no citizen may be prevented from returning to Syria as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 13 which states that every resident has the right to return.
SBC expresses outrage at the exploitative fee imposed by the Assad regime and urges the UK Government to assume its responsibility in protecting civilians and to put pressure on the regime to retract the decree. All agencies should be working towards making the return of Syrians easier and not tougher.