Statement of Russian-Syrian Joint Coordination Headquarters on Problems Hindering Evacuation of Refugees and the Internally Displaced

JOINT STATEMENT
of Joint Coordination Headquarters
of the Russian Federation and the Syrian Arab Republic
About problems hindering an implementation of refugee and internally displaced persons evacuation initiative
January 16, 2020

Interagency Coordination Headquarters of the Russia and Syria continue their endeavor in restoring peaceful life in the country and providing comprehensive assistance to Syrian citizens in returning to their homeland. Measures taken in this direction in accordance with the United Nations Basic Principles for Refugees are yielding positive results.

Up to date, 2,064,515 Syrian citizens have already returned to their homes of which 1,308,744 are internally displaced persons and 755,771 are refugees from territories foreign states.

The sustained dynamic in the process of socio-economic restoration has been reached. We point out the active participation of the UN, ICRC and SARC representatives as well as nongovernment organizations in assisting to the population in the areas under the legitimate Syrian government control.

Given the acute humanitarian situation in Idlib de-escalation zone and multiple applies of the citizens requesting return to their homes in areas liberated from the rebels, the Syrian government in cooperation with the Russian reconciliation Center has initiated activities for the decent, safe and voluntary withdrawing from the area.

There are three crossing-points running on an ongoing basis since 13 January, 2020 such as Hader in Aleppo governorate, Abu Ed Duhur in Idlib and Habit in Hama governorate. The capacity of each crossing-point is up to 1,000 individuals and 50 vehicles per 24 hours. For the citizens without permanent accommodation a sufficient number of places have prepared in the shelters of Hama governorate such as Sanawia Mardes Lil Benin, Madrasat Omar al-Sayed Mohammed, Handoulat Bint al-Azwar, Madrasat Tayeba al-Janoubiya al-Sharkiya.

The Syrian government is ready to use all possibilities in providing necessary conditions for returning civilians from the Idlib de-escalation zone.

Furthermore, guided by the humanitarian needs in the Idlib governorate, the UN Security Council has adopted 2,504 resolution, which extends trans-border mechanism in providing humanitarian assistance in Syria. Given the real situation on the ground, thanks to the stance of the Russia, China and Vietnam the final document was approved.

It’s very important to avoid double standards policy while implementing the adopted resolution, when in lip service the willing to provide humanitarian assistance is declaring but in reality there is supporting of the armed groups which destabilize the situation in the country.

We call on the Western countries to take into account the needs of all Syrian citizens on the whole territory of the Syrian Arab republic while humanitarian missions planning. Up to now areas under the legitimate government control, which are urgently, need in such assistance are much less provided with the help than Idlib via cross-border channels. This practice is discrediting such a mechanism and doubt it’s further feasibility.

At the same time, in order to justify the legitimacy of its presence in Syria, which is necessary to maintain the ability to plunder mineral resources with impunity for as long as possible, they are trying by any means to maintain hotbeds of tension in the Syrian Arab Republic.

The most acute humanitarian situation remains in the largest camps of temporarily displaced persons located in territories controlled by the American party: Rukban in the south and al-Khol in the north-east of the country.

It is puzzling that the implementation of the United Nations plan to evacuate the remaining residents of Rukban camp has been delayed for the fifth month due to the refusal of the United States and militants under its control to fulfill its obligations to ensure the safety of humanitarian representatives in the occupied Al-Tanf zone.

Instead of saving the Syrian citizens who want to leave the camp, the US party trying to explain the need for additional humanitarian convoys to the camp in all international venues and deciding on the fate of the militants under their control.

We declare once again that the humanitarian and medical assistance are guaranteed to the refuges after withdrawing from the Al-Tanf zone in the territory controlled by the Syrian government. Humanitarian supplies sent to Rukban simply do not reach the inhabitants of the camp.

We draw the attention of the leadership of the United Nations that the involvement of the UN regional office into Rukban disembodiment process in August 2019, actually led to disruption of the evacuation process. Whereas in the period from April to July from Rukban used to return from two to seven thousand Syrians per month. The main reason is that there is increased confidence of pro-American armed groups to keep people in Rukban with impunity, taking into account statements by representatives of UN regional agencies about their readiness to regularly supply their humanitarian aid, medicines and fuel.

The next postponement of the camp residents evacuation for February 2020, is a major concern, which UN representatives link with the need to verify replicated with the filing of the United States and their allies of misinformation about the “repression and oppression of former “rukbanists” in the shelters of Homs governorate.” We believe that such baseless accusations are aimed at discrediting the SAR government and are used as an excuse to further delay the operation to disband the Rukban.

We remind that the United Nations agencies have more than once been given the opportunity to visit shelters and personally verify that the created living conditions for returning citizens comply with international humanitarian standards. As a result of visits to these centers in April and November 2019, the efforts of the Syrian authorities to prepare places for receiving refugees were positively evaluated.

Regarding the situation in the al-Khol camp located on the territory controlled by the US and their allies which had survived the humanitarian catastrophe. We drew attention to the report of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which outlines some stabilization of the situation in the camp. We note that this was achieved largely thanks to the efforts of the Syrian government, which in every possible way facilitates the work of international organizations, primarily the International Committee of the Red Cross, with the aim of providing the necessary assistance to all residents of the camp, including the wives and children of ISIS fighters.

At the same time there is a significant number of unresolved humanitarian tasks remain in the al-Khol. Poor living conditions, as well as the lack of progress in resolving the issue of returning its residents to places of permanent residence, provoke an increase in social tension in the camp.

Given the current situation, we urge the international community to pay attention to the plight of Syrians who are forced to languish in the aforementioned internally displaced persons camps and begin to take effective measures to disband them and return refugees to their homes.

The additional hindrance in the return of Syrian citizens to their homeland is the US-aggravated situation in the entire Middle East region as a result of the assassination of Iranian General K. Suleymani in Iraq.

In addition, instead of the announced withdrawal of American units, which would undoubtedly contribute to reducing tensions in the region, the United States continues to escalate the situation by increasing its military contingent in the Middle East. We strongly condemn the ongoing US armed attacks that violate international law, undermine the sovereignty of states and threaten stability and security in the region as a whole.

We are demanding from the American side to stop exerting a destabilizing influence on the situation in the Middle East region, to respect strictly the sovereignty of states and the principles of the United Nations on the use of force.

Head of the Interagency Coordination Headquarters of the Russian Federation on returning of refugees to the Syrian Arab Republic – Chief of the National Defense Control Center of the Russian Federation

M. Mizintsev

Head of the Interagency Coordination Headquarters of Syria on returning of refugees to the Syrian Arab Republic – Minister of Municipal Administration and Ecology of the Syrian Arab Republic

H. Mahlouf

Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation