by Joint Coordination Committee of the Russian Federation and the Syrian Arab Republic
“On the problems hampering the evacuation of refugees from the Rukban refugee camp”
October 25, 2019
The Syrian government, with the support of the Russian side, continues to actively work to provide comprehensive assistance to Syrian citizens in returning to their homeland and restoring peaceful life in the country. Measures taken in this direction in accordance with the United Nations Basic Principles for Refugees have had a solid impact.
At present, more than 1,981,014 Syrian citizens have returned to their homes with over 1,304,883 internally displaced persons and more than 676,131 refugees from abroad among them.
The figures presented serve as an indisputable proof of the interest of the Syrian government in creating the necessary conditions for a decent, safe and voluntary return of their citizens to their homeland. The Syrian authorities are constantly working to restore stability and security in the country.
The current situation in southern Syria is causing serious concern, where US-controlled armed gangs acting in the 55-kilometer-long area of Al-Tanf continue to hamper the evacuation of Syrian civilians from the Rukban refugee camp.
It was possible to save half the population of Rukban, which was forced to drag on a wretched existence in inhuman conditions, due solely to the measures taken by Syria and Russia. In order to finally solve the problem of the Rukban refugee camp, the Russian and Syrian sides provided the opportunity for the United Nations to get involved in the further implementation of the initiative to withdraw the remaining residents of Rukban.
However, despite the full readiness of the Russian and Syrian sides to implement the third phase of the UN operational plan, which provides for the simultaneous evacuation of up to 2500 people, on September 29, 2019, only 336 Syrian citizens were able to leave the Rukban camp.
The main reason for the actual disruption of the UN Plan is the failure of the American side to fulfill its obligations. Contrary to numerous US promises to influence controlled illegal armed groups, the militants sabotaged early warning of the planned action, limited the duration of the humanitarian convoy, extorted and directly threatened families wishing to leave the camp.
The current situation indicates that the American side is satisfied with this situation. With their tacit consent, the leaders of illegal armed groups continue to hold civilians hostage and, in fact, in an ultimatum form, demand from the UN humanitarian agencies to organize systematic food and medical supplies to the camp.
We draw the attention of the United Nations leadership that the termination of the exit of the Rukban residents to the territory controlled by the government is connected, first of all, with the increased confidence of pro-American gangs in the possibility of holding people in the camp with impunity, given the willingness of the world organization to regularly supply them with humanitarian aid and medicines.
The US side’s ignoring of fulfillment of its obligations, as well as of ensuring order in the occupied by them area of Al-Tanf, indicates the urgent need for the rapid restoration of Syrian sovereignty over this territory as the only measure to stabilize the situation in southern Syria.
Head of Russian Joint Coordination Committee on Repatriation of Syrian Refugees – Head of National Centre for State Defence Control of the Russian Federation
Head of Syrian Joint Coordination Committee on Repatriation of Syrian Refugees – Local Administration Minister of the Syrian Arab Republic