MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –
interagency coordination headquarters
Russian Federation and Syrian Arab Republic
on the activation of the return process
Syrian refugees to their places of origin
On November 16, 2021, Damascus hosted a regular joint meeting of the interdepartmental coordination headquarters of the Russian Federation and the Syrian Arab Republic to assist Syrian citizens in a safe, dignified and voluntary return to their homeland with the participation of representatives of relevant UN structures and international humanitarian organizations.
During the event, the heads and leading experts of the interdepartmental coordination headquarters discussed the implementation of joint Russian-Syrian initiatives to facilitate the return of refugees to Syria, as well as further steps to assist in the restoration of peaceful life in the country.
During the meeting, it was confirmed that the return of Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes remains a national priority for the Syrian leadership. In order to revitalize this process, the Syrian government is making every effort to restore a full-fledged peaceful life in the country. Acting within the framework of the agreements reached, the Russian Federation provides comprehensive assistance to the Syrian side in solving urgent humanitarian problems.
Thanks to the effective work of the interagency coordination headquarters, carried out on the basis of the basic principles of the United Nations, 2,326,114 Syrian citizens have returned to their homes to date, 1,373,814 of them internally displaced persons and 952,300 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.
The Syrian authorities are paying special attention to the development of the educational system, the earliest possible 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 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.
Taking into account the difficult socio-economic situation in Syria, resulting from sanctions, international isolation and the coronavirus pandemic, the Russian side is providing humanitarian assistance to the Syrian population in need. Since 2015, 3,027 humanitarian actions have been held, during which 5,298.86 tons of food, medicine, and basic necessities have been distributed to the population of Syria.
Thanks to the joint Russian-Syrian operation to stabilize the situation in Daraa province, a cessation of hostilities has been ensured, work has been organized to resolve the status of militants, and the functioning of local authorities has been 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.
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 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.
During a joint meeting of the interdepartmental coordination headquarters, the main problems standing in the way of the Syrian people to a normal life were identified.
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 the natural resources of the SAR 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. The restrictive measures against Syria impede the post-war reconstruction of the country and deprive ordinary Syrian citizens of the opportunities 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 ongoing 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.
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.
Head of the Interdepartmental Coordination Headquarters of the Russian Federation for the Return of Refugees to the Territory of the Syrian Arab Republic – Head of the National Center for Defense Management of the Russian Federation
Head of the Syrian Interdepartmental Coordination Headquarters for the Return of Refugees to the Territory of the Syrian Arab Republic – Minister of Municipal Administration and Environment of the Syrian Arab Republic
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.