Joint coordination headquarters of Russia and Syria made a joint statement on the problems hindering the return of Syrian refugees
Joint Coordination Headquarters
of the Russian Federation and the Syrian Arab Republic
«On the problems hindering the implementation of initiative
on refugees and internally displaced persons
returning to places of residence»
January 29, 2020
Russia and Syria joint coordination headquarters continue active work in order to provide comprehensive assistance to Syrian citizens in returning to their homeland and restoring peaceful life in the country. Undertaken measures in this direction are yielding positive results.
Up to the date, 2,080,443 of Syrian citizens returned to their native places, 1,312,520 of them are internally displaced persons and 767,923 refugees from abroad.
The Syrian government continues to make tremendous efforts to ensure state guarantees for returning citizens, including in the areas of security, education and health, as well as by simplifying status determination procedures and recovery of identity documents for citizens.
Considering the difficult situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone, where militants of terrorist groups refuse to comply the ceasefire and actively impede Russian and Turkish joint efforts to stabilize the situation in northwestern Syria, Syrian and the Russian sides have taken the necessary measures for the safe exit of civilians from the area.
Since January 13, 2020, 1,490 people have already left the Idlib de-escalation zone controlled by armed groups, through the humanitarian corridors organized by Russia and Syria. A total of 46,418 people left the Idlib de-escalation zone since March 4, 2018. The Syrian government takes all possible measures to ensure decent conditions for returning citizens.
At the same time, the exit of the civilian population from the Idlib de-escalation zone was disrupted due to activation terrorists’ attacks on positions of government troops and shelling of settlements from January 16, 2020, despite confirmed between Russia and Turkey ceasefire regime introduced on January 9, 2020.
We believe that in order to stabilize the situation in Idlib, it is necessary to completely stop the support and fencing of armed groups, as well as to exclude any possibility of falling into the hands of terrorists humanitarian aid delivered for civilians, including using a cross-border mechanism.
The most critical issue remains the US activities in the illegally occupied territories of the Syrian Arab Republic, aimed to maintain hotbeds of tension in the country, such as the Rukban camp. Armed groups controlled by the American side continue to keep civilians in the camp solely in order to continue receiving humanitarian assistance, medicines and fuel from the UN.
UN agencies that expressed a desire to join the Russian-Syrian initiative and developed an operational plan to evacuate the remaining residents of Rukban camp failed to complete this most important mission to save the Syrians who were held hostage.
Another excuse to drag out the UN operation on dismantlement of the Rukban camp became fake information, promoted by the American side, with accusations of the Syrian government in massive violation of refugees’ rights. The source of these false accusations is the informational resources of the so-called camp administration, controlled by illegal armed groups.
We categorically reject all statements about repression and arrests of dozens of former Rukban citizens. The Syrian leadership is doing its best to ensure that refugee families who leave the Rukban camp forget their horrors as soon as possible.
Up to the date, from 19,045 people who rescued and turned back on the government control territory, only 27 residents of Rukban wished to remain in temporary accommodation centers of the Homs province. They will remain in temporary accommodation centers until the Syrian authorities provide them with decent housing.
We draw the attention of United Nations officials that the inability of the world organization to fulfill its obligations to withdraw the remaining population of Rukban only discredits it in the eyes of the world community.
We urge the United States to confirm by practice the stated readiness to realize the initiative on disbanding the Rukban and have the necessary impact on the armed groups under its control to ensure unhindered exit for people from the camp and the safe work of humanitarian representatives.
A difficult humanitarian situation persists in the al-Khol refugee camp in al-Hasakah province, primarily due to the lack of progress in resolving the issue of returning its residents to places of their permanent residence. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the UN Secretariat, over 66,000 people live in the camp, 96% of them are women and children. The younger generation is deprived of the opportunity to study in schools and from an early age assimilates the ideas of radical Islam and extremism. Young people are recruited actively by terrorist organizations.
However many European countries refuse to take their own citizens from the camp- members of militants’ families, who previously fought on the side of ISIS.
We are sure that only the restoration of full sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Syria guarantees the elimination of refugee camps and return ordinary Syrians to normal peaceful life in their homes.
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
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