News / Middle East

Syrian Refugees Skeptical, Divided Over Peace Talks

FILE - A Syrian refugee woman stands outside a tent at a makeshift camp in the village of Kfarkahel, in the Kura district near the northern city of Tripoli, Dec. 11, 2013
FILE - A Syrian refugee woman stands outside a tent at a makeshift camp in the village of Kfarkahel, in the Kura district near the northern city of Tripoli, Dec. 11, 2013
As Syrian peace talks get underway in Montreux, Switzerland, refugees from the conflict are expressing skepticism about the likely success of the negotiations.

At a medical clinic in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, more than 100 Syrian refugees, many with crying babies in their arms, are waiting to see a doctor.  They are pre-occupied with the daily challenges of living far from home.

They are desperate for good fortune and are hopeful the U.S.-Russian-brokered talks will bring peace to Syria. But most are full of pessimism.

Sabr, a 38-year-old mother of two sons who were due to join the Syrian army before the family fled their home in Idlib province, expressed skepticism a solution to the Syrian crisis would be found.

“We have heard about the Geneva [Montreux] talks but we personally don’t believe something is going to happen out of this. But we have hope and we really want to have hope,” she admitted.

Central to the negotiations is the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian leader has refused to relinquish power, but Western leaders have insisted that a peaceful resolution of the conflict depends upon it.

Faridah, a 51-year-old mother lives near a district in Tripoli where there has been a spillover of violence from Syria’s civil war, with almost daily firefights between Lebanese supporters and opponents of the Assad government. She says there can be no return to her home country while Assad remains in power.

“If they are not going to remove Bashar al-Assad and now we have lost everything, all our houses, what are we going to do, are we going to go back? We lost our parents, our brothers, what are we going to do back there?” asked a skeptical Faridah.

Syrian refugee Ahmed, who is at the clinic with his pregnant wife and sick baby daughter, says he does not care whether or not Assad stays in power.

“I personally don’t care about those talks. All I care about is that there will be peace and no more bombardments and we can go back to our normal life where I can have my children living normally," he said. "I have no relationship to politics whatsoever. I don’t care if it is Bashar staying or not.”

A few kilometers from the clinic and closer to Tripoli’s seaport, Syrian refugees occupying a dismal and crowded shantytown of lean-tos and hastily built breezeblock houses are as desperate about their lives - and as divided over Assad’s fate.

Omar, 23,  is visiting relatives, but says he frequently returns to his home in Homs, one of the hardest-hit towns in the war. He says most of his neighbors there just want the war to end on any terms.

“People are talking there and they hope it will carry some positive effects because the people want the situation to go calmer because people can no longer find a living," he explained. "Whether al-Assad remains and the whole regime remains or changes, people want the calm and that is what they expect of Geneva 2.”

For the families of those fighting the government, return will likely prove impossible until Bashar al-Assad is gone.

You May Like

Video Egyptian Journalists Call for Freedom of Press

update Despite release of al-Jazeera journalists and others, Egyptian Journalist Syndicate says some remain imprisoned More

Turkey Survey Indicates Traditional Distrusts, Shift to the West

Comprehensive public opinion survey also found a large majority of those interviewed distrust all countries other than country’s neighbor, Azerbaijan More

Pakistan Court Upholds Death Sentence in Blasphemy Killing

Highest court upholds sentence of Mumtaz Qadri convicted of 2011 killing a provincial governor for criticizing country’s controversial blasphemy law More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs