Russian – Syrian Joint Statement on the Challenges Hindering Return of Refugees from Rukban and al-Hol Camps

Russian and Syrian joint coordination headquarters make another report about the problems hindering the return of refugees from the Rukban and al-Hol camps

by joint coordination headquarters of the Russian Federation and the Syrian Arab Republic “the problems hindering the return of refugees from the Rukban and al-Hol camps”
(May 22, 2019)

The situation in the Rukban and al-Hol refugee camps located in the US-controlled territories of Syria remains critical. Its population is in catastrophic conditions, which are aggravated every day. Continuing to suffer from acute shortage of water, food, poor sanitation and lack of medical care, many prisoners of the camps do not survive, they become seriously ill and die. Primarily, infants and preschool-age children are affected.

At the same time, the situation only worsens, primarily because of the position of the United States, which created these camps to justify their stay in Syria and, accordingly, are fully responsible for the living conditions of the Syrians in them.

Thanks to the joint efforts of Russia and Syria, they managed to launch the process of the release of internally displaced persons from Rukban. To date, 12,967 Syrian citizens have left the camp, including 675 people over the past week. And this is significantly less than in the previous similar period.

Residents of the camp, who expressed a desire to leave its territory, are forced to pay a ransom of US-controlled militants, pay for fuel to move to the Jleb checkpoint through the 55-kilometer al-Tanf zone, which was difficult to acquire due to the progressive fuel crisis.

We call on the representatives of the US command in the al-Tanf zone to stop the destructive activities of the armed gangs under their control, to ensure the free access of the residents of the Rukban camp, and also to assist in refueling vehicles, which are used to evacuate refugees.

It is necessary to intensify the process of withdrawing Syrian citizens and disband the Rukban camp during the remaining days of May and June, because in conditions of shortage of water and food, as well as the establishment of heat, life there will become absolutely unbearable in July-August.

The authorities of the Syrian Arab Republic have provided all the necessary guarantees to ensure the safe, voluntary, informed and dignified return of Syrian citizens. The overwhelming majority of the former residents of Rukban have already moved from temporary accommodation centres to their places of permanent residence.

Representatives of the American side again call for a third humanitarian convoy, but we have repeatedly seen from practical experience that this way does not lead to the solution of the problems of refugees, but only allows to provide US-controlled militants with all the necessary . Such an approach to solving the Rukban problem is unacceptable.

We remind the American side that when occupying part of the territory of the SAR in the area around al-Tanf, they should take care of the civilian population as well as they feed their military.

An even more catastrophic situation is in the al-Hol camp. Despite the measures taken by international humanitarian organizations and the Syrian side, the humanitarian situation there remains critical. The camp is overcrowded and there is a tendency to increase its population, which leads to a humanitarian catastrophe.

It must be remembered that every day of delay in disbanding the Rukban and al-Hol refugee camps takes from seven to ten lives.

We call on  the American side to remove the obstacles for the return of the inhabitants of Rukban and al-Hol to their homes, to disband these camps forever, to liberate the territories in the al-Tanf zone on the left bank of the Euphrates river and transfer them to the legitimate government.

We appeal to the relevant UN structures and all international humanitarian organizations to provide full-fledged, targeted assistance to the Syrian people throughout Syria to enhance the process of the return of refugees to their homeland.

Head of Russian Joint Coordination Committee on Repatriation of Syrian Refugees – Head of National Centre for State Defence Control of the Russian Federation

Mizintsev M.

Head of Syrian Joint Coordination Committee on Repatriation of Syrian Refugees – Local Administration Minister of the Syrian Arab Republic

Makhlouf H.

Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation