Syria asks Washington, Baghdad to shoulder responsibility of Iraqi refugees issue

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al- Muallem on Sunday called on the United States and the Iraqi government to shoulder the responsibility of the Iraqi refugees issue, the official SANA news agency reported.

Muallem made the call while meeting with EU's Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel, during which they discussed the massive flow of Iraqi refugees into Syria due to the deteriorating situation in Iraq.

"The United States and the Iraqi government are both responsible and should provide aid and safe return to the Iraqi refugees," Muallem was quoted as saying.

He stressed the need for dedicated cooperation by the international community while hailing the important role of the EU in providing support to countries hosting refugees and supplying them with aid.

For his part, Michel revealed that his commission's humanitarian aid department is intended to implement a strategic plan to deal with the Iraqi refugees outside their homeland and those relocated in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Muallem and Michel also discussed means to supply the half million Palestinian refugees in Syria with sufficient humanitarian aid, SANA reported.

Earlier in the day, Michel also held a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Michel told reporters before concluding his two-day tour that his talks with the Syrian side are "good and constructive", adding the talks concentrated on the humanitarian aid that the EU could offer to Syria through preparing programs to help the Iraqi displaced and the Palestinian refugees in Syria.

"We agreed to work together on the logistic level ... The EU has a lot of experience in order to help Syria put a strategy to host the Iraq refugees," he said.

He also praised Syria for hosting the Iraqi refugees and the good manner with which it dealt with them to keep their dignity, adding "Syria has opened its schools and health centers for the Iraqi refugees."

Syria has said that more than one million Iraqi refugees were now residing in the country, accounting for over half of the total exodus who fled the war-wracked Iraq.

The large influx of Iraqis has inflicted immense burden to Syria's subsidies system, infrastructure and public services and prices of properties along with daily commodities have climbed up since.

The Syrian authorities have called for international help in providing basic services to the refugees, saying thousands are arriving daily.

Source: Xinhua

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