The war in Syria appears to be coming to an end. For the millions of Syrians who fled their country over the last few years, thoughts may be turning to returning home. These refugees are also under pressure to return from host countries.
But I am concerned for their safety with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad still in power – and I know the people of Bristol are too.
In the past, Assad has shown little regard for his people’s welfare. His forces have bombed, gassed and tortured civilians. And he has refused or ignored half of UN attempts to deliver aid to the country.
On Monday, I asked Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt about the process for ensuring refugees can return safely. I was pleased to hear him acknowledge the difficulties in working with the international community on this.
Ultimately, it comes down to one thing: We need to know conclusively that Syria is safe. If not, we absolutely cannot return refugees to the country.