On Thursday, March 17 at 19:30 GMT:

Five years have passed since the start of the conflict in Syria. During that time, Syria’s population shrunk by 15 percent, largely due to the exodus of refugees. Life expectancy dropped from 79.5 years to 55.7 years. The fighting has pushed the number of Syrian refugees to 4.8 million. Approximately 13.5 million need humanitarian assistance inside the country. Economically, Syria has also seen more than $200 billion disappear due to the destruction of war and loss of business.

Throughout the past five years, numerous peace talks were held but none of them came to fruition. This week, UN-brokered talks between the government and the opposition have resumed in Geneva and some are hoping this is the turning point Syrians have been waiting for. The UN special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, says there is a higher chance than ever of achieving a political solution. He says, “the only plan B available is return to war”.

One of the issues likely to be discussed in Geneva is the possibility of federalism for the war-ravaged country. Diplomats speaking with Reuters said major powers close to the talks have discussed the possibility of federal division in Syria, which would grant broad autonomy to regional authorities, while maintaining the country’s unity as a single state. In this episode, a panel of Syrians share their thoughts on the prospects of a peace deal as the conflict enters its sixth year. Join the conversation at 19:30GMT.

Joining this conversation:

Rafif Jouejati @RafifJ
Director, Foundation to Restore Equality and Education in Syria

​Rami Jarrah @RamiJarrah
Syrian Journalist

Yakzan Shishakly @YakzanShishakly
CEO, Maram Foundation

What will it take to make the Syria peace talks in Geneva a success? Share your thoughts below.