However, Catholic Relief Services expressed that they are "circumspect" on the U.S. establishing safe zones in Syria and Yemen, while still praising the Trump administration for their "interest" in caring for the most vulnerable populations in Syria.
"Once you declare a safe zone, you're responsible for keeping the people inside safe for as long as necessary," Bill O'Keefe told CNA, adding that they "can be extremely expensive and difficult to sustain."
With so many regional actors like Turkey and Iran involved in the Syrian conflict and waging "proxy wars" there, people inside safe zones could still be at high risk of bombings and attacks, he said.
Placing so many refugees in one place could make these vulnerable populations even more of a target to terror groups and entities that want to kill them, he added.
"When you concentrate the innocent and the vulnerable together, they can become more of a target and even if there's a sincere effort at providing a security umbrella, you have a lot of vulnerable people concentrated in a very defined area, and for those who want to harm those people, in some ways it's actually easier," he said.
And if they are set up for an indefinite period of time, safe zones may not be a lasting solution for families who just want to live a "normal life."
If the conflict does not end, the zones may instead be dead-ends "where families can't earn a living, where children can't go to school," he said, and the situation "doesn't prepare them to rebuild their society and to go back and play a productive role in wherever they are."
Rather, the U.S. should put its energy into pursuing peace at the local and regional levels in Syria and the Middle East, he insisted.
"We certainly urge our government to expend the last ounce of diplomatic energy on working with the parties to the conflict" as well as the "regional and global actors that are, in one way or another, engaged in various proxy battles" in Syria, O'Keefe said.
"Adequate humanitarian assistance" must also be provided to displaced persons in Syria and neighboring countries, he insisted.
However, although safe zones may be risky they are still preferable to the current situation on the ground for many embattled religious and ethnic minorities, Nassif said.
(Story continues below)
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"It's basically a free-for-all in Syria. And it's total chaos on the ground. All of these minorities are being targeted left and right by everybody and they're being scapegoated," he said, noting the "exodus" of Christians, Yazidis, Kurds, and Alowites from the country.
"The longer the conflict goes in Syria, the more likely Christians are going to just be continuing to leave at the rate they've been leaving from the country," he said.