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MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –

Head of the Interdepartmental Coordination Headquarters
Of the Russian Federation, Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev
at a joint meeting of interdepartmental coordination headquarters
Syria and Russia
(Damascus, November 16, 2021)

Allow me, on behalf of the Russian interdepartmental delegation, which arrived in the Syrian Arab Republic, consisting of representatives from the Administration of the President of Russia, from the State Duma of the Russian Federation, 22 ministries and departments, 23 subjects and 18 organizations of the Russian Federation on a humanitarian visit, to welcome all participants in the joint meeting of the interdepartmental coordination headquarters Russia and Syria on the return of refugees. I express my sincere gratitude to those present for their active position and assistance in returning Syria to a full-fledged peaceful life.

I take this opportunity to send words of gratitude to our dear friends – the Minister of Municipal Management and Environment of the Syrian Arab Republic, the distinguished engineer Hussein Mahlouf, and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Migrants of the Syrian Arab Republic, the distinguished Mr. Ayman Susan, and express my deep gratitude for the joint fruitful work.

I greet the representatives of the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, foreign states and organizations.

On behalf of the Russian delegation and the people of Russia in general, I congratulate our Syrian friends on a public holiday – the beginning of 51 years ago “correctional reforms”, thanks to which Syria has emerged as a strong and independent state.

Even then, close friendly relations between our countries were established and subsequently actively developed, which resulted in the implementation of many joint projects, the largest of which were:

For half a century, the foreign policy of Syria has been characterized by stability, which has contributed to the development of strong friendly relations with foreign countries, including Russia.

But the existence of a strong, sovereign Syrian state in the Middle East ran counter to the geopolitical interests of Western countries. Therefore, in 2011, terrorists supported by foreign countries invaded Syria. Their main goals were the removal of the objectionable government of Bashar al-Assad and the imposition of chaos in the state. As a result of the actions of terrorists, many Syrian cities turned into ruins, robberies and slave trade flourished, and illegal trade in natural resources was carried out.

In these catastrophic conditions for Syria, the Russian Federation did not hesitate in 2015 to respond to the request of Syrian friends to help them fight the terrorist threat. With the full support of Russia, the Syrian troops by December 2017 managed to defeat the main forces of the extremists. Currently, the Syrian government troops and Russian military personnel provide security in the liberated territories and restrain the expansion of the foreign military presence in northern Syria and in the Euphrates, are successfully searching for and neutralizing the remaining “sleeping” terrorist cells.

At the same time, the damage from the hostilities turned out to be enormous. Many Syrian cities were razed to the ground. More than six million Syrian citizens, which is about a quarter of the country’s population, were forced to leave their homeland. The unprecedented in its cynicism policy pursued by Western countries in the Syrian direction with the use of illegal sanctions is strangling Syria and exacerbating the difficult situation of its economy, which has not yet been restored after the war. Western sanctions policy deprives the country of foreign trade markets, normal interaction with developed economies and the possibility of a dignified existence for the Syrians.

The occupation by the so-called international anti-terrorist coalition of the territory of Trans-Euphrates, where the main reserves of hydrocarbons are located and a significant part of grain is grown, has a negative impact on the restoration and development of the republic.

All this affects the lives of ordinary Syrian citizens who have to endure the hardships associated with the fight against terrorists, foreign occupation and post-war devastation.

In these conditions, the Russian leadership is doing everything possible to ensure that Syria rebuilds the country’s economy and territorial integrity as soon as possible. Acting within the framework of the agreements reached, the Russian Federation provides comprehensive assistance in restoring peaceful life in Syria.

In accordance with the decisions of the Presidents of the Russian Federation and the Syrian Arab Republic, interdepartmental coordination headquarters of Russia and Syria have been created to solve this important task.

Thanks to the effective work of the interagency coordination headquarters, carried out on the basis of the basic principles of the United Nations, to date, more than two million three hundred twenty six thousand Syrian citizens have returned to their homes, of which over one million three hundred seventy three thousand are internally displaced persons and more than nine hundred fifty two. thousands of refugees from abroad.

Returning Syrians are provided with food, medical care and other assistance. In the shortest possible time, families receive housing, able-bodied citizens are provided with jobs, and children begin to go to schools.

The restoration and construction of new social infrastructure facilities continues, including in the areas of health care, education and energy. Since 2018, in various regions of the country, the following have been repaired and put into operation: 5019 residential buildings, 260 medical institutions, 995 educational institutions, 275 water supply facilities, 328 bakeries, 854 electrical substations, 14455 industrial enterprises.

The Syrian authorities pay special attention to the development of the educational system, as well as the speedy social adaptation of children who survived the horrors of war. New learning centers are opening, work continues to rebuild schools, and many activities are underway to help children be creative and develop their talents. All this is done in order to see again happy and joyful children’s faces, full of hopes for a peaceful, creative life.

The Russian Federation is also actively involved in the rehabilitation of Syrian children affected by the fighting. Thus, at the invitation of the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, General of the Army Sergei Kuzhugetovich Shoigu, a visit by Syrian children to the capital of Russia was organized in August 2021.

Children got acquainted with the main sights of Moscow, visited the museums of the Moscow Kremlin, objects of the Victory Park on Poklonnaya Gora and the Patriot Military-Patriotic Park of Culture and Leisure of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, as well as a number of other historical sites.

Of course, such events are of the utmost importance, and the leadership of the Russian Federation is doing everything possible to ensure that all Syrian children have their lives normalized as quickly as possible, and they can look confidently into tomorrow.

I would like to emphasize that in 2022, the work on the rehabilitation of Syrian children affected by the hostilities will continue. Most of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation have already expressed a desire to join this initiative and host the younger generation from all provinces of Syria. Next year, it is planned to organize and conduct various cultural and educational programs for Syrian children, including acquaintance with the whole variety of Russian regions.

Throughout the operation against terrorists in Syria, the Russian side has been providing humanitarian assistance to the Syrian population in need.

More than three thousand humanitarian actions were carried out, during which more than five thousand two hundred tons of food, medicine, and basic necessities were distributed to the population of Syria.

Russian doctors provided medical assistance to more than 132 thousand residents of the country, and sappers cleared 6,080 hectares of explosives, 273 km of roads, over 12 km of railways and 3,112 buildings and structures. Over 43 thousand explosive objects were found and neutralized.

Russian military personnel provide assistance in the delivery and escort of humanitarian supplies through the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and other international organizations, including to the southern regions of Syria, the province of Idlib and Trans-Euphrates.

The Russian Federation continues the most important work on the return from the El-Khol refugee camp of Russian citizens who have found themselves in a difficult life situation, primarily children. With the participation of the Commissioner for the Rights of the Child under the President of the Russian Federation, 215 children who survived the horrors of war have been removed to the territory of Russia.

Taking this opportunity, I express separate words of gratitude to Anna Yuryevna Kuznetsova, who is present in this hall, who personally organized all this work, went directly to the refugee camps and took our children home. Dear Anna Yuryevna, I wish you continued success in your work, now in your new position – Deputy Chairman of the State Duma of the Russian Federation.

On behalf of the interdepartmental coordination headquarters of Russia and Syria, I would like to welcome the new Commissioner for the Rights of the Child under the President of the Russian Federation, Maria Alexandrovna Lvova-Belova, who, for objective reasons, could not take part in our meeting, but who is currently actively assimilating into a new responsible position , including on issues related to the fate of children, forcedly, due to various reasons, found themselves outside the country. We hope to see Maria Alexandrovna soon on Syrian soil. We wish her success in this important state matter.

In order to bring objective information to the world community about the measures taken by the Syrian government to create decent living conditions on the territory of the republic, the Interdepartmental Coordination Headquarters of Russia continues to actively carry out large-scale activities at all international venues, including in New York, Washington, Geneva and Amman.

The most pressing problematic issues on this topic were discussed during the sixteenth international meeting on Syria in the “Astana format”, held in July this year in Nur-Sultan.

Taking into account the difficult socio-economic situation in Syria, which has developed as a result of sanctions, international isolation and the coronavirus pandemic, the Interdepartmental Coordination Headquarters of Russia has prepared more than one thousand six hundred tons of humanitarian aid, formed based on the most urgent needs of the Syrian side.

Already, the Russian delegation has brought 16 power generators to Syria for delivery to hospitals and hospitals, more than 370 tons of food, about 40 tons of clothing and bedding, as well as more than 5,000 school kits for educational institutions.

The already signed Russian-Syrian memorandums, agreements and treaties are being actively implemented. One of the most important areas of work of the interdepartmental coordination headquarters is the detailed study and coordination of the localization of the production of vaccines against the new coronavirus infection in the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic.

The joint work of representatives of the International Complex Expedition as part of the Center for Rescue Archeology of the Institute for the History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences under the leadership of Natalya Fedorovna Solovieva and the Department of Antiquities and Museums of Syria on the preservation of cultural heritage is being effectively carried out.

All this work has a positive effect on the situation in Syria. Thus, as a result of the joint Russian-Syrian operation to stabilize the situation in the Daraa province, a regime of cessation of hostilities was ensured, work was organized to resolve the status of militants, and the functioning of local authorities was restored. Water supply in the province was restored, which provided the population with drinking water and contributed to the establishment of a peaceful life.

As a result of these efforts, more than 80% of internally displaced persons have returned to their places of permanent residence in the area.

The stabilization of the situation in government-controlled areas and the restoration of civilian infrastructure have led to an intensification of the resettlement of internally displaced persons to their places of permanent residence. Since the beginning of the year, 26 temporary accommodation points have been disbanded in the Syrian Arab Republic, including 10 for the period from September 1. All refugees are provided with permanent housing, medical and educational institutions operate in settlements.

It is worth noting that the results of the implementation of the Russian-Syrian initiatives for the post-conflict reconstruction of the republic were achieved in the context of incessant opposition from Western countries. They are conducting a large-scale information campaign, in which the media and non-governmental organizations are actively involved, convincing the world community that conditions for the return of refugees have not yet been created in Syria.

At the same time, the West is investing huge amounts of money in humanitarian programs aimed at supporting the population and refugees in areas not controlled by the legal government in Syria, as well as in the countries of the Middle East, which actually prevents citizens from returning to their homes.

At the same time, it is in the refugee camps located in the regions controlled by the Western countries that a critical humanitarian situation persists, all laws and norms of international law are violated.

This is evidenced by the results of a visit to Syria by a delegation of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in October this year. Representatives of the world organization were able to visit temporary accommodation camps in the province of Homs and see firsthand how people who managed to leave the Rukban refugee camp live. According to former prisoners of this death camp, its population lived and lives in inhuman conditions. And the illegal armed groups operating in Rukban are hindering the departure of ordinary residents, guided solely by material considerations and fearing that if only militants remain in the camp, its supply will stop.

This was confirmed by the disruption in early September 2021 of the plan for the evacuation of the civilian population of the Rukban camp, which was being prepared by the UN specialized structures, when local militants, using violence, did not allow the removal of Syrian citizens to government-controlled territory.

The situation in the Al-Hol refugee camp, located in the province of Haseke, is also deteriorating. The camp continues to have a high crime rate, food shortages, and poor medical care. Security problems are escalating. Of particular concern is the situation of women and girls, whose threats of reprisals have risen sharply in recent months. Due to the lack of security in the camp, most humanitarian organizations refuse to work there.

These factors lead to an increase in social and interethnic tensions among the inhabitants of Al-Khol and contribute to their further radicalization.

In this regard, we consider the height of hypocrisy to be all the accusations against the Syrian authorities by Western countries in the context of the preservation of anti-Syrian sanctions and the occupation of the territories of a sovereign state. The massive spread of fake news about the situation in Syria, designed to intimidate the Syrians and force them to postpone their return home, is of concern.

At the same time, according to the estimates of international humanitarian organizations, the living conditions of the majority of Syrian citizens have deteriorated significantly in their host countries in the Middle East. There has been an increase in unemployment among displaced persons, a decrease in their income and a deterioration in living conditions due to the coronavirus pandemic, anti-epidemic restrictions and the economic crisis in the region. The further impoverishment of migrants at times increases the danger of their radicalization, involvement in extremist movements and terrorist activities, primarily ISIS.

As a result of this state of affairs in the countries of the Middle East region and the simultaneous improvement of the situation in Syria, including in the security sphere, already now 94% of Syrians in Jordan have expressed a desire to return to their homeland in the coming year.

In this regard, we welcome the decision taken by the Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to resume the operation of the Jabir-Nasib border crossing from September 29 this year.

Once again, I would like to emphasize that the Syrian government has repeatedly expressed its readiness to use all available opportunities to ensure the necessary conditions for the return of its population to their home towns and villages. For this purpose, 13 refugee checkpoints have been deployed and operate around the clock: 11 land-based, one sea and one air. The work on them was organized by Syrian colleagues from local authorities, security forces and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

Yes, there are still many unresolved problems in Syria, but for their early settlement it is necessary to consolidate the efforts of the entire international community in providing the Syrian people with humanitarian aid and helping the country’s legitimate government to create decent conditions for the return of Syrians to their homes.

In this situation, a question arises, today it is rather rhetorical, but that is why it is no less relevant. Dozens of countries with the leading role of the Western coalition under the auspices of the fight against terrorism came to Syria and caused massive damage to the territory and critical infrastructure of the country. And where did the good intentions of these countries go now, when the question of restoring the Syrian Arab Republic after the victory over international terrorism arose most acutely?

The question, unfortunately, remains unanswered for a long time. At the same time, whoever is directly guilty of the suffering of the Syrian people has not borne any responsibility for the tragedy of this country, including legal, economic, moral and humanitarian.

Dear colleagues, the main problems hindering the restoration of Syria as a strong, sovereign and prosperous state today remain:

Firstly, it is the occupation by foreign troops of the territories of a sovereign Syrian state, a UN member. We believe that it is precisely the illegal military presence in Syria that is the main destructive factor on the path of the country’s revival. It leads to the plundering of natural resources and fomenting hotbeds of tension in the region.

Secondly, it is the pursuit of a policy of sanctions against Syria contrary to the UN Charter. Restrictive measures against the Syrian Arab Republic impede the post-war reconstruction of the country and deprive ordinary Syrian citizens of the opportunity for a normal existence.

Thirdly, this is the passivity of a number of Western countries and international organizations in the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2585 in the part concerning “building up work on early recovery and increasing the level of resilience of Syria’s infrastructure.”

Fourth, it is the continuing policy of a number of Western countries aimed at discriminating against government territories, whitewashing terrorists, blocking the return of refugees and post-conflict reconstruction of the country.

In these conditions, Russia remains consistent in its policy aimed at providing comprehensive assistance to friendly Syria, including in the restoration of its economy. In total, since the beginning of the work of the interdepartmental coordination headquarters of Russia and Syria, 7 agreements have been concluded between the Russian and Syrian departments, which are of a strategic nature and are designed for the long term.

Today, through the federal executive authorities, another agreement and 11 agreements in the fields of education, medicine, culture, science and industry have been prepared for signing, the signing of which will open up new opportunities for the development of mutually beneficial relations and strengthening partnerships for the benefit of the people of Syria.

To overcome obstacles to the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland, as well as to restore a peaceful life in the long-suffering Syrian land, we consider it necessary to involve the entire world community in solving the problems of rebuilding the country and humanitarian assistance to Syria.

We call on international partners to take an active part in the process of returning Syrian citizens to their homeland and in the socio-economic reconstruction of the country, including by lifting unilateral sanctions against this sovereign state.

Today, this is what is in demand more than ever.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.

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