At least 1,271 civilians, including 229 children, and 104 victims of torture were killed in Syria in 2021 alone.
Qatar has stressed the need for “concentrated efforts” to end the ongoing suffering of Syrians amid an absence of a political resolution to the country’s crisis under the Bashar Al Assad regime.
The statement came on Tuesday during the fourth meeting on Syria in Geneva, attended by Qatar’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Regional Affairs Mohammed Al Khulaifi.
“This group has a great responsibility to coordinate and help end the suffering the Syrians have endured during the past eleven years,” said the Qatari envoy.
Al Khulaifi noted that efforts are needed “to support the Syrians and preserve their dignity” while expressing his appreciation for countries that have supported Syrian refugees “until their voluntary and safe return to their homes.”
The Qatari envoy also voiced his “deep concern about the suspension of the work of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, and the failure of the Syrian regime to take any political steps towards finding a solution to the crisis.”
The Gulf state has repeatedly rejected to normalise with the Assad regime for its ongoing crimes against Syrians.
Qatar was among the countries that openly called on Assad to step down since the very beginning of the Syria uprising in 2011, and was the first Arab country to shut down its embassy in the war-torn country.
It was also the first to establish a consulate for the Syrian opposition.
In February, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani reiterated his country’s staunch refusal to normalise with the Syrian regime.
Sheikh Mohammed told Al Jazeera that returning Syria to the Arab League “goes back to the host country” and that there have been no decisions on whether Damascus has been invited to attend the senior level meeting in March.
“We, as Qatar, see that there were reasons when the Arab League suspended Syria’s membership and those reasons remain until now,” explained Sheikh Mohammed, noting that normalising with Assad would be “unfair to the Syrian nation”.
Meanwhile, countries in the region including the UAE, Jordan, and Algeria have normalised with the Assad regime.
Last month, Algeria’s Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra expressed its support for the return of the Syrian regime to the Arab League during his visit to Damascus. Lamamra had met with his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad and Assad.
The meeting came amid efforts by Algeria to reinstate the Syrian regime’s membership in the Arab League ahead of November’s summit, scheduled to take place in Algiers.
The high-profile summit will bring together leaders from the Arab world.
“Normalising with a regime that has a record of crimes against humanity, and has broken every international norm, will not bring any benefits to those seeking to achieve any form or peace or justice,” Dr. Belal Tourkya is the Chargé d’Affairs of the Syrian Embassy in Qatar, wrote for Doha News last week.
The Syrian regime’s membership was suspended in 2011 for its human rights violations against civilians at the height of the Arab Spring. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have all voiced their opposition to the return of the regime to the bloc.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said that at least 1,271 civilians, including 229 children, and 104 victims of torture were killed in Syria in 2021 alone.
The UN Human Rights Office estimates more than 306,000 civilians were killed over 10 years in the Syria conflict. According to the UN, there are 5,724,230 Syrian refugees as of 31 March.
To date, the Assad regime has not been held accountable for its crimes despite several evidence and investigations into torture and killings of civilians.