Interagency Coordinating Headquarters of the Russian Federation and the Syrian Arab Republic make statement about US preventing Syrian refugees from leaving the Rukban camp.
The interagency coordination headquarters of the Russian Federation and the Syrian Arab Republic, guided by the basic principles of the UN, such as respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction to race, sex, language and religion, pursuing a sincere desire to save suffering residents of Rukban who find themselves in inhuman conditions, make a following statement:
“Since 19th of February 2019, the government of Syria, together with the Russian Centre for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides and Refugee Migration Monitoring, ensures the function of humanitarian corridor and the Jleb checkpoint for the exit of Syrian citizens from the Rukban camp.
This initiative is supported by the UN and the countries bordering Syria, first of all by Jordan. The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has begun to develop a comprehensive Plan for evacuation of Syrian citizens from the Rukban camp.
At the same time armed groups controlled by the United States, headed by Mahavir as-Saura actually forcibly detain refugees who wish to leave the camp and demand significant amounts in USD for the exit. Refugees do not have such money. The humanitarian situation in the Rukban camp continues to be a grave. Women, children, the disabled people have no support. The level of violence, including sexual violence, continues to be at high level. Among the inhabitants of the camp there are eradicated in the world practice diseases, such as pediculosis and scabies. People continue to die of hypothermia, insanitary conditions, skin diseases, influenza, measles, tuberculosis, asthma, lack of basic medical care, food and fuel.
There have been cases of refugees falling into “food” slavery because of lack of money. The assistance provided by international organizations falls into the hands of militants and is unable to radically improve the situation.
At the same time, the US is trying to shift the responsibility of this situation to the Syrian and Russian sides, and misinform in every possible way the world community with statements about the allegedly blocking of humanitarian aid to refugees by Syrian government troops and by the Russian military police.
The command of the US group in the al-Tanf zone interferes the exit, moreover, misleads the refugees about the inability to leave the camp, spreads rumors, that on the territory controlled by the Syrian government, they will be devastated, forced into conscription and arrested.
At the same time, during the second humanitarian convoy held in early February 2019, representatives of the UN and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent interviewed refugees stationed in the Rukban camp, in order to assess the situation in the camp and people’s opinion about their future. The results of the questionnaire showed the following: 95% of residents want to leave the camp, and 83% of respondents would like to return to their places of permanent residence, while 80% of them – to the territory under the control of the government- and only 3% – to areas beyond the control of the Syrian authorities, 17% – undecided.
The areas to which the Rukban camp residents have expressed a desire to return, named the Khalidiyeh (20 km southwest of Aleppo), al-Amara (7 km south of Aleppo), Tadmor (Palmyra), Mkhin (57 km southeast of Homs), al-Karyatein (70 km southeast of Homs), the suburbs of Damascus, Homs, Raqqa and Aleppo are ready for their receiving and accommodation. Places of medical examination, sanitary epidemiological treatment, food, rest, registration of documents and material support are deployed at these points.
The Syrian and Russian sides are ready to take over the transportation of the camp’s residents to their places of permanent residence. For this purpose, two convoys of buses have been formed to transport residents directly from the camp.
The Syrian government guarantees the security of temporarily displaced persons and a simplified procedure of documents recovery.
We urge the United States to release illegally detained residents of the Rukban camp to ensure their right to free (without payment) access to places of permanent residence. We appeal to the world community to promote the peaceful initiative of the Syrian government to return citizens to their homes, to disband the Rukban camp and to eliminate the 55-kilometer security zone around al-Tanf. We also call the United States, whose military units are located illegally in Syria, to leave the country.
On March 1, 2019, the Syrian government, in coordination with the Russian side, guided by the highest principles of humanism, will form additional humanitarian convoys for the voluntary and unhindered return of the Rukban camp residents to their places of permanent residence as Khalidiyeh, Al-Amara, Palmyra, Mkhin, Al-Karyatein, the suburbs of Damascus, Homs, Raqqa and Aleppo. The entry of the columns into the illegally occupied by USA zone around al-Tanf for the evacuation of refugees from the Rukban camp will be carried out in coordination with the UN.
We strongly encourage the United States to influence controlled bandit formations and to create all conditions for the passage of these humanitarian convoys to the Rukban camp and the return of the Syrians to their homes.
The head of the interdepartmental coordinating headquarters of the Russian Federation for the return of refugees to the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic – Head of National control center of Defense of the Russian Federation
The head of the interdepartmental coordinating headquarters of the Syria for the return of refugees to the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic – Minister of municipal administration and ecology of the Syrian Arab Republic