Reviving Syria – over 300,000 people returns back to their homeland in 2018
Another meeting of the Russian and Syrian joint coordination centres on repatriation of refugees 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
Today we hold the final session of the Russian and Syrian joint coordination centres on the eve of the New Year.
Being on the threshold of the New Year, we clearly realize that this is also the beginning of the next big, difficult stage of cooperation. It will take a lot of effort, patience and of course resources to achieve the main goal - the revival of Syria.
At present the number of returnees has significantly augmented in Syria. A total of 1,574,176 Syrian citizens have already returned to their homes from abroad, with 1,266,803 of internally displaced persons and 307,373 of refugees.
Since the beginning of the year, 313,555 Syrian citizens have returned to their homes, including 183,663 internally displaced persons and 129,892 refugees from foreign countries.
Many citizens came to the meeting with their relatives to celebrate Christmas and New Year. Their number is constantly increasing. Many of them have decided to stay in their homes and will not return to foreign lands.
The Syrians themselves see that the country is being restored and they want to contribute to the revival of their homeland. Sometimes, citizens are justly indignant about the outright lies about the situation in Syria, which they are treated abroad with.
We cannot say it often enough at all international platforms, and we will do it until our western partners come and see for themselves what large-scale work has been launched to create all the necessary conditions for returning to Syria.
Joint coordination centres have achieved gtangible results in this sphere. Armenia, China, Poland, Japan, and other countries have jointed economic assistance rendered to Syria. In January we expect representatives for Norway to arrive in Damascus to assess the scope of required works to create favourable environment for returnees.
Over the past week, the following facilities were repaired and commissioned in:
270 medical institutions,
1,468 educational institutions,
290 water supply facilities,
1033 power supply stations,
14248 industrial enterprises.
Rehabilitation process of social facilities and infrastructure in Syria has positive momentum.
We expect the West to cease its accusations of lack of conditions for the returnees.
It is impossible not to touch on the urgent issues of the Rukban. The catastrophic situation of the camp residents does not give rest to anyone who thinks sensibly and understands that the citizens of Syria who are illegally held there are denied the opportunity to celebrate the New Year in their homes in decent conditions and with their families.
The administration of the President of the United States announced the imminent withdrawal of American troops from Syria. We expect it to happen soon, and believe that illegal armed formations operating first of all in the area round al-Tanf will finally fall under control of the Syrian government.
Attention is drawn to the activity of the UN representatives to initiate implementation of humanitarian issues in Syria. In particular, we are talking about cross-border humanitarian assistance. And we welcome these noble aspirations, but at the same time insist on full transparency during its delivery and distribution directly at the sites. All this should be done in front of the cameras and should be broadcasted with appropriate security. This will make it possible to exclude the possibility of plundering humanitarian supplies by both militants of illegal armed groups and dishonest persons.
Dear colleagues! On the eve of the New Year, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, the governments of Moscow, Tula and Kaluga regions, the Combat Brotherhood commonwealth, the Russian Humanitarian Mission non-profit organization, the Yunarmya All-Russian Military-Patriotic Youth Movement, a consolidated concert brigade as part of The Cossack Brothers Ensemble and many others have sent large amount of humanitarian relief and Christmas presents to the Russian servicemen, citizens of the Syrian Arab Republic and, above all, children.
Report by I.Tsarikov, representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
The outgoing 2018 in Syria was marked by serious achievements regarding efforts to finally eradicate terrorist presence in Syria, further reduce the level of violence, advance towards a political settlement, start the country's social and economic recovery, and return to places of permanent residence of refugees and internally displaced persons.
A peaceful life is gradually set in the areas liberated from terrorists. The pace of reconstruction of the destroyed economy is gaining momentum. Special attention is paid to creation of conditions for the safe, voluntary and non-discriminatory return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes. According to the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today 82% of Syrians would like to return to their places of origin. Almost every day more than thousand refugees arrive from Lebanon and Jordan. The total number of those who returned from the launch of the relevant Russian initiative in July this year exceeded 70,000 people.
Russia continues to work on convening an international conference on Syrian refugees with a specialized UN special agency - the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and members concerned of the international community.
Situation in the Rukban refugee camp, located in the 55-kilometer, so-called security zone of the US military base at Al-Tanf, in the occupied territory of Syria, is of particular concern. Intensive consultations are being held in various formats on providing humanitarian assistance to refugees in the camp, access to which the Americans deny to for official Damascus. It is estimated that up to 50,000 people are accommodated there. There are very severe living conditions in the Rukban camp. People are in fact held hostage by illegal armed groups operating in the area, including those associated with the ISIS.
At present the UN is considering the idea of sending another humanitarian convoy to the Rukban camp in December. We see overriding need for such an action in the interests of saving people from the humanitarian disaster on the eve of the winter season. At the same time we support the desire of the UN to correct mistakes made during the sending of the first convoy in November. Then a significant part of the cargo by the fault of the American side did not reach the recipients, and was assigned to the militants. This emasculates the high humanitarian sense of the UN aid.
We believe that the United States, which is in fact occupying the territory of Syria, where the Rukban is located, and thus are responsible for everything that happens in the area, should provide the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent with all the necessary security guarantees, and the possibility of the targeted delivery of the goods, including access to the places of its distribution.
On December 19, US President Donald Trump announced imminent withdrawal of the American troops from Syria. We have repeatedly pointed out that the illegitimate presence of the US forces in Syria hinders settlement of crisis in Syria. At the same time we do not know anything about reasons of this decision, its parameters, prospective plans of the US.
An important direction of political settlement in Syria is the work of its return to the League of Arab States. A significant step in this was the visit of the President of the Republic of the Sudan, Omar Bashir, to Damascus on 16 December and his meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad. We welcome the first visit of the head of the Arab state to Damascus after the suspension of Syria’s membership in the League of Arab States in November 2011, and we hope that its results will contribute to the full-fledged restoration of Arab relations with the Syrian Arab Republic participation in the Arab League. We believe that the return of Syria to the "Arab family" would also have substantial support for the process of the Syrian settlement, in accordance with fundamental principles of international law and provisions of the UN Charter.
One of the key stages of a political settlement in Syria is the process of forming and launching the work of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva in accordance with the decisions adopted by the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi and UN Security Council Resolution 2254. At present, thanks to the efforts of the guarantors of the Astana process, it has entered the final stretch. On December 18, in Geneva, the foreign ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey presented the positive results of their consultations on the formation of the Constitutional Committee to the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Syria, Staffan de Mistura. The tripartite statement adopted after the contacts in Geneva by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the countries-guarantors of the Astana process confirmed their determination to facilitate the start of the work of the Constitutional Committee. We hope that the Committee will be able to meet in Geneva early next year.
In conclusion, I would like to wish our Syrian colleagues in the coming year not to slow down the progress achieved in building a peaceful life in the country. We also wish proseperity and well-being to the Syrian people. .
Report by the Deputy Head of the Syrian Joint Coordination HQ Muteza Kattana.
The Government is working to facilitate repatriation of those Syrians who were forced to flee the country because of the combat actions.
In 2018, over 56 billion of Syrian pounds were allocated to rebuild the destroyed infrastructure. The funds were effectively used in the construction of power lines, water pipes, sewage systems, communications, as well as in the reconstruction of schools, hospitals, health centers, bakeries, flour mills, granaries, government buildings, roads, sidewalks and street lighting.
In order to ensure employment of citizens both residing in Syrian territory and returning to the country, the Syrian government continues to support favourable conditions in cities, industrial areas to attract local and foreign Investment.
In three industrial centers - Adra, Hassia, Sheikh Najjar there are 2,122 industrial enterprises where production has already been launched. Another 3,279 enterprises are about to be out into operation. In total, these facilities will provide 136,061 jobs.
In addition, 116 industrial and handicraft areas were funded by the state in the amount of 11.307 billion Syrian pounds.
The area occupied by them reaches 6,031 hectares, and the number of those wishing to invest has reached 45,358, which will create another 206,870 jobs.
Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic Abdulmunem Anan:
Syrian people are celebrating Christmas. They live a victory over terrorism and restoring peace in largest part of Syria. All this is achieved by the help and support of our friends, first of all the Russian Federation.
The 2018 year - is the year when we overcame the crisis - social, polititcal and military. The entire Syrian people united under the wise leadership, which did not allow the United States and their Arab and other foreign henchmen to divide the Syrian people, crush the territory of Syria and reduce its role in the Middle East.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs through diplomats working outside the country actively solves all the problematic issues related to the issuance of identity documents, birth certificates, including children born in other states to provide an opportunity for everyone to return to their homeland.
In addition, in accordance with the decrees of the President of the Syrian Arab Republic, work is underway for national reconciliation.
Report by Governor of al-Quneitra province of the Syrian Arab Republic Hammam al-Dibbiyat
Al-Quneitra province is characterised by a wealth of resources and and environment required for investments in industry. Therefore we, together with entrepreneurs and industrialists, are developing on its territory an industrial zone in the Al-Khalas area, covering 100 hectares.
There is an increased demand and need for extending industrial area by another 40 hectares, and a total of 140 hectares. At present all the industrial plots are occupied on 65%, and handicraft plots - on 100%.
Besides, in the near future it is planned to open milk production plan shortly after the food industry has allocated 4 ha of land in al-Halasa area. Handicraft plots have been creat in Han-Arnabe and al-Hamediya. We call on all entrepreneurs and industrialists to visit the province of al-Quneitra to familiarize themselves with its resources for the implementation of its projects in its territory.
It is to be stressed that special committees were established to settle legal status of residents in liberated localities. This will facilitate the process of national reconciliation. The necessary documents are being issued. A total of 6,156 residents have already settled their status.
In addition, work is underway jointly with the Department of Civili Registry in the province to resolve topical issues with the registration of civil status.
Report by Chief of the Centre for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides and Refugee Migration Monitoring Lieutenant General Sergei Solomatin
The refugee checkpoints continue to operate in normal mode.
Over the past month, in total 7,420 people left Lebanon for Syria via the Jaydet-Yabus and Talkalakh CPs.
16,713 people have passed via the Nasib CP from Jordan.
It is reported that 9,770 Syrians returned back to:
Eastern Ghouta (Damascus province) - 744 people.
5,060 people returned back to the places of permanent residence in Deir ez-Zor, Damascus and Homs provinces through the checkpoint al-Salhiyah.
A total of 3,966 people have passed via the Abu al-Duhur CP from the Idlib de-escalation zone.
Over the past month the Russian side has organised 18 humanitarian actions delivering 8,750 food sets with a total weight of 37.45 tons.
On the eve of the New 2019 Year, during humanitarian actions Russian servicemen handed out Christmas gifts to Syrian children in costumes of "Grandfather Frost".
Such humanitarian actions are planned to be held until December 31, 2018 to create a festive atmosphere among returnees in Syria.
In total, the Russian side has organised and carried out 2,023 humanitarian actions, delivering 3,180.5 tons of food supplies, the bare necessities and bottled water.
In total over the past month 2,796 Syrians have been provided with medical assistance by Russian military medics.
In total, 102,580 Syrians were provided with medical assistance by Russian military medics.
Report by Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev
New Year celebrations always awaken the most beautiful, most noble impulses, hopes for fulfillment of cherished desires in our hearts.
Syria needs peace, the opportunity to work fully for the benefit of this beautiful country, its development and prosperity.
I wish all members of the Russian and Syrian joint coordination centres all the success in the New 2019 Year in ensuring voluntary, safe and dignified return of Syrian to their homes, as well as soon revival of peaceful life throughout the Syrian Arab Republic!
Thank you for your work! See you in 2019!