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Up to 200,000 refugees may return to Syria from EU countries

Another meeting of the Joint Coordination Centre of the Defence Ministry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russian the return of refugees to the Syrian Arab Republic took place in Moscow. It was chaired by Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev, the head of the National Centre for State Defence Control of the Russian Federation.

Report by Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev.

The Joint Coordination Centre of the Defence Ministry and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russian continues its work on the return of refugees back to the Syrian Arab Republic.

Organized and massive return of Syrians from Lebanon to their homeland is a significant success. Over the past day, 2,038 refugees have left Lebanon for Syria.

I thank you all for efficient work.

However, the return of refugees from other countries is not so intense and not relevant to our approaches. First of all, it relates to Jordan.

Although, I should say that that all countries are involved in considerable preliminaries  being done, including Jordan and Turkey. I believe that in the near future we shall address organisational issues to make it work.

The Syrian government takes significant effort to ensure negotiations among elders of towns and leaders of illegal armed formations in the Southwest de-escalation zone.

Evacuation of civilians from Kefraya and al-Fu-ah is completed in Idlib province. Internally displaced persons are sent to the temporary accommodation centre in Jibrin, the province of Aleppo.

Work is underway to deploy branches of the Centre for Refugee Reception, Distribution and Settlement at the Abu-Duhur, al-Salhiyah and Palmyra CPs. At present, the work progress is 48%.

A growing number of countries are ready to join providing assistance to the Syrian Arab Republic. Minister of Industry of Lebanon Hussein al-Haj Hazan, when addressing the July 23 Conference on Investments Prospects in Syrian Economy, stated that recovery of Syria is essential for the entire Middle East, and called for taking active part in the process.

The UN structures in concern as well as leaders of Western countries demostrate their readiness for cooperation. Andrej Mahecic, the Official representative of the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, expressed readiness of the agency to cooperate with Russia on the return of refugees. The German Ministry for Foreign Affairs officially supported efforts of the Russian leadership to address humanitarian challenges in Syria.

In addition, as a result of the working meeting on July 21 in Beirut attended by the representatives of the Russian EMERCOM and officials of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) identified specific areas for humanitarian demining operation in the Syrian Arab Republic, they reaffirmed their readiness to cooperate and coordinate efforts for the implementation of humanitarian projects in Syria.

Dear colleagues, all these above proves that work is intensified in nearly all spheres concerning the return of refugees back to their homeland.

Now we shall listen to the reports.

I invite Nikolay Burtsev, the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to report on implementation of Refugee Returning Plan in part related to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

Over to you.

Report of Nikolay Burtsev, the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

Russian diplomatic organizations including permanent missions of Russia ot the UN and EU are working to consolidate international efforts aimed to enable refugees to return back to their former places of residence.

Russian embassies closely cooperate with foreign diplomatic missions that confirmed the number of Syrian refugees in their countries in accordance with information of the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. However the UNHCR reported that decreasing number of Syrian refugees in counties concerned does not mean that they are heading back to Syria - they are not monitored as soon as they leave for other regions of the world.

At the same time we do focus on intensification of contacts with those countries that are interested in a earliest return of the Syrians temporary staying at them back home.

Thus, the Lebanese authorities state that the real figure of Syrian refugees in Lebanon is not 997.6 thous. but 1.5 mln, - 200 thous. Syrians stay there illegally. However, just 30,000 Syrians that were actively involved in combat actions in the Syrian Arab Republic, expressed their desire to stay in Lebanon. The rest are ready to return to Syria as the environment stabilizes there. It is planned to discuss with the Lebanese side a possibility of creating a working group to address this problem.

During the talks in the Foreign Ministry of Greece, we informed the Greek side on the contribution of Russia to provide aid to Syria, recovery of economic and social infrastructure, economic projects, humanitarian demining, etc.

In the Greek Foreign Ministry we were told that it requires to receive interdepartmental consent and time to define terms and format for consultation on the topic. They promised to send an immediate request to immigration authorities on updated figures of Syrian refugees in Greece and geography of their residence in the Syrian Arab Republic. However, our Greek colleagues did not manage to assess readiness of Syrian to return back to their homeland.

So far, Swedish authorities continue to support the idea of smooth integrating Syrian refugees into local society.

We carry on contacts with Syrian government on returning IDPs to places of their former residence.

We actively cooperate with a number of states on providing humanitarian assistance to Syrian people as well as international organisations on rehabilitarion of social and economic infrastructure of Syria.

Consultations are underway with all leading Western and regional partners to lift all unilateral financial sanctions imposed on Syria.

The report is over.

Speech by Colonel General M. Mizintsev

Thank you!

It is to be stressed that Russian diplomats positively influence the return of refugees in Syria. The head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov and his Jordanian colleague Ayman Safadi? hold telephone conversation and discussed the possibility of future joint efforts to assist Syria in its post-conflict reconstruction, in particular, the early return of Syrian refugees to their homes.

Ayman Safadi expressed full readiness of the country's leadership to cooperate to address these challenges.

In this regard, we expect intensifying activity aimed to explain the Syrian refugees in Jordan that they are home and ready to provide their full support for accommodation and adaptation. There will be more Syrian citizens willing to return to their homeland and join the process of recovering the country's economy.

Employees of Russian diplomatic missions should take into account and to provide the operational duty shift of the Joint Coordination Centre in accordance with the established rules of the information exchange.

When it comes to the overall activities of the diplomatic corps, it works efficiently with neighbouring states. At present, it is necessary to radically ramp up efforts with other countries, particularly the European Union, where up to 200 thousand refugees may return from in the near future.

And in conclusion.

For active work on the return of refugees in the Syrian Arab Republic from Lebanon, I would ask to reward responsible employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and diplomatic institutions in the country, who directly supervise these questions.

Let us continue this work.

I would like to invite Colonel Posunko, the Deputy Chief of the Centre for Refugee Reception, Distribution and Settlement, to report on reception and accommodation arrangements for Syrian refugees, the functioning and deployment of checkpoints,  preliminary calculations for needs in construction materials and hardware for furnishing refugee locations, as well as on the whole spectrum of humanitarian issues.

Over to you.

Report by Colonel A. V. Posunko.

Since July 18, 2018, the Centre for Refugee Reception, Distribution and Settlement has been organizing its branches in the Syrian Arab Republic in Abu-Duhur (Aleppo province),  Salhiyah (Deir ez-Zor province) and Palmyra (Zaza town for working with Rukban refugee camp) to form administration at the CPs.

In total, 2,416 people (691 women and 1,270 children) have already returned to Syria from abroad via the Nasib and Zemrani CPs of the Centre for Refugee Reception, Distribution and Settlement, including 2,084 people (588 women and 1,112 children) over the past day.

Refugees are making their way back to the following provinces, cities and settlements:

Rif-Damascus province - 2,128 people (27 women, 44 children); over the past day - 2,038 people (573 women and 1,089 children);

Damascus province - 121 people (31 men, 42 women and 48 children);

Homs province - Homs city - 80 people (23 women and 45 children);

Daraa province - Daraa city - 69 people (6 women and 12 children); over the past day - 46 people (15 women and 23 children);

al-Suwayda province - 18 people (5 women and 9 children).

Documents are checked, relevant local administration has been informed on their arrival to give consent.

People in need are provided with transport.

Over the past 24 hours 36 civilians left the Southwest de-escalation zone.

In total since June 27, 2018 46,501 people have left the Southwest de-escalation zone with 7,290 of them accommodated in the Jebab and RSA's refugee camps.

At present, there are 2,093 people present in these camps.

Besides, 893 militants and their families have been withdrawn from the area.

For reference: 893 people, with 340 men of them, 227 women, 326 children have left Bosra-al-Sham for the Idlib de-escalation zone by 23 buses via a special corridor for insurgents with families.

They assessed  the social infrastructure and facilities, housing fund, amount of construction materials available in the following two towns:

Homs

Abdulla Kusa, al-Haydariya-Jabal district

Marrat, Mazlum

Assessment and registration of refugees returning

 to the territory controlled by the Committee for the Governing of the Eastern Territories of the Euphrates from the west shore of the Euphrates River in the vicinity of the crossing on the river Euphrates

Humanitarian Assistance

Atbaa

It is planned to supply 650 food sets with a total weight of 2.8 tons during the humanitarian action.

Hatlah, medical assistance to refugees;

field mission of the ICRC and SARC in Deir ez-Zor

Working meetings

Homs

a meeting was held with secretary assistant of the Rivival Party to specify allocation of premises for the Syrian-Russian Cultural Centre in Homs with Director for Energy.

Aleppo

a meeting with deputy governor Khamid Kynno on humanitarian and charitable actions

 in settlements of Aleppo provinces, including Tall Rifaat deconflictation zone No 5.

Damascus

a meeting with delegation of the Armenian Defence Ministry,

signing of a review protocols on working meetings 

a meeting with the head of the Commission for Refugees in the deconfliction  zone No. 5 Fares Jeneydan to discuss the operational environment, a number of civilians wishing to return back home

Monitoring of Settlement process

Khusham

Al-Tabiyah

The SAA engineering units carry on the mine clearance operation in the settlements of Al-Rastan, Al-Gasbiyah, Kafr Laha, Homs province. They have cleared up: 2.5 ha of the territory, 10 buildings and 2km of roads. They found and defused 51 explosive devices including 10 improvised explosive devices.

Speech by Colonel General M. Mizintsev

Thank you! Thank you for your report.

I would like to ask to closely control timely opening of branches of the Centre for Refugee Reception, Distribution and Settlement Abu-Duhur, al-Salhiyah and Palmyra, as well as providing them with all necessary in accordance with the standard procedure of working with refugees.

It is necessary to prepare the opening of branches of the Centre for Refugee Reception, Distribution and Settlement airports and seaports. There are no obstacles for implementing this work. I ask to carefully work on this issues and report on your proposals on Friday.

And another thing.

Yesterday, the specialists of the Centre for Refugee Reception, Distribution and Settlement at the Zemrani checkpoint was able to quickly solve the situation with the temporary denial of crossing for two families (14 people). Officials of the branch very quickly got into the problem, contacted with representatives of the public authorities in Syria and have made it possible for refugees to return home.

I ask to reward the head and the administration of the CP. In future we shall address other issues in the same manner.

Besides, I would like to ask you to more fundamentally approach to preparation of preliminary calculations for needs in construction materials and equipment for furnishing refugee locations. Tomorrow I am waiting from you a detailed report on this issue.

Also call for intensifying efforts to mobilize all the resources of central and local authorities of Syria to provide refugees, regardless of their place of stay, with comprehensive information on conditions and rules for return to places of former residence. It is important to fully exploit personal data generated by the diplomatic agencies on Syrian refugees abroad to forward to their personal address written notifications from both the Syrian leadership and local authorities. This work should be put in 24-hour operation. A report on this issue should be provided weekly.

I turn to the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation. From your part, trough the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation via embassies and diplomatic organisations, please, organise distribution of complete information of refugees seeking asylum outside Syria. In this, I ask to use potential of the Syrian diplomatic institutions and diasporas, which is known to have high cohesion and organization.

Defence Minister of the Russian Federation General of the Army Sergei Shoigu approved our proposals on sending working groups to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to work on the return of refugees to the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic.

Senior officers of working groups should pay special attention to all the issues relating to the return of Syrian refugees. Given that most of them have no money for transportation by air and sea, the main transportation means should be automobile transport.

In addition, it is necessary to create 24-hour HQs jointly with the Jordanian and Lebanese parties to relocate refugees in Syria. As a result of the work, detailed plans on movement of refugees from the territory of Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey shall be developed. The working groups shall depart to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey tomorrow.

Joint HQs are to start functioning in Jordan and Lebanon on July 30.

Considering the importance of the task, I will ask the Ambassadors of the Russian Federation to Jordan and Lebanon, to personally lead the joint operational headquarters to relocate refugees in Syria at the first stage.

Aleksey Vladimirovich, appeal to the Centre for Refugee Reception, Distribution and Settlement, with a view to ensuring this work jointly with the Syrian authorities to consider backing up and the 24-hour duty on each checkpoint at least 50 buses from throughout providing infrastructure.

At the same time, discuss with the Syrian side the allocation, if necessary, money to deliver Syrian refugees by air and sea. Please, make the required calculations.

I turn to the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation. I ask Russian diplomatic mission to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to address the whole complex of the abovementioned issues.

Summing up the results of today's meeting, I appeal to all its attendees. Close cooperation at all levels is of paramount importance. All officials of the Centre for Refugee Reception, Distribution and Settlement and its branches shall have individual approach to every refugee. We do not have the right to leave any of refugees ignored.

Aleksey Vladimirovich, you are the key elemnt in this work. I mean the Centre for Refugee Reception, Distribution and Settlement. Only deep examination by your staff  the whole complex of issues, thoughtful, detailed calculations at all stages of work with refugees, individual approach to each of them, ranging from clothing and footwear, food and living conditions and finishing up to deal with issues related to religious affiliation.

To operational shift of the Joint Coordination Centre and the Centre for Refugee Reception, Distribution and Settlement. I draw your attention to the full implementation of the activities under the standard Manual for working with refugees; work with each of them must begin on a temporary stay abroad and inside Syria. At the stage we shall clearly understand: who, how many family members, what personal property, livestock, where the wish to return if there's funding, including for airlift, sealift if necessary.

At the checkpoint, every Syrian must obtain temporary documents, if they lost, medical assistance, other sanitation services, food, including for the road.

Afterwards, we are obliged to deliver refugees to their homes and there perform the full range of activities to adapt them to civilian life. This includes housing, employment, education, socialization and other issues.

The head of the Centre for Refugee Reception, Distribution and Settlement shall demonstrate tomorrow the work Nasib and Zemrani CPs to Syrian public, humanitarian and charitable organizations and the media outlets.

At this we shall conclude our session. Another meeting takes place tomorrow at 3pm.

In addition to the previously reported Plan please provide for tomorrow reports of the responsible officials from the Syrian authorities on all tasks.

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