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686 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     678 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities

PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

28.02.2019

Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UN Security Council Meeting on Syria

Mr. President,

We thank Mm. Reena Ghelani for the report.

We are satisfied to see a steady decrease of violence in Syria. However, despite the ongoing stabilization, there are separate tension hotbeds in the Syrian Arab Republic, including the one in Idlib Governorate and to the East of the Euphrates.

The situation in the North-West of Syria is volatile; it cannot be artificially deterred for a long time. The threat posed by Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham militants who are in almost full control of these territories, cannot disappear by itself. The calls to “freeze” the situation only encourage the terrorists.

In this regard, we continue to act together with our partners from Turkey and Iran to develop a formula that would make it possible to combat the terrorist threat without damage for the civil population. The Summit held in Sochi on February 14 confirmed that the Astana “troika” remains united in its search for ways to stabilize “on the ground” situation in SAR (in Idlib and in the North-East) as soon as possible.

We support the idea of enhancing humanitarian cooperation in Syria. The Syrians are really in need of many things. The aid that is delivered to the country remains in high demand. However, this aid should be comprehensive and depoliticized. We are aware that some countries are pushed to stop helping the population residing in Damascus-controlled areas. This is absolutely unacceptable, as well as the adoption of unilateral sanctions that affect ordinary Syrians in the first place.

Instead of harming Syrians and thinking that you damage the Damascus authorities, one should focus on a more effective way to improve the humanitarian situation in Syria. I mean help to restore the devastated civilian infrastructure and national economy. We would like to emphasize that the upcoming conference in Brussels will not be complete without representatives of the government of SAR.

The number of refugees returning to SAR from the neighboring countries steadily increases. I emphasize that nobody drives them back by force. Reportedly, almost 2 mln Syrians have expressed their wish to return to Syria from 10 countries. Overall, since September 30, 2015, over 370 thousand people returned to Syria from other states. Assisted by the Russian Centre for the Reconciliation of Opposing Sides, 12 checkpoints were opened, including one air and one sea checkpoint.

The leadership of Syria takes steps to sustain the return of Syrian refugees. There are 412 settlements that were the least damaged by the military action that run sites to receive and accommodate refugees, their total capacity is 1.5 mln places. The government runs a program to restore the settlements, located in the area liberated from the militants in Aleppo, Damascus and Hama Governorates. This program consists of three stages: infrastructure (water and electricity supply), reach-out assistance to the population, getting people back to places of their permanent residence.

There is ongoing amnesty for the individuals who have evaded military service, i.a. among the refugees and former members of illegal armed formations. As of today, over 55 thousand people have received amnesty.

We hope that those who sincerely bother about the fate of ordinary Syrians will have a closer look at the situation, take into account the facts and finally join the efforts to overcome devastation and establish normal lifestyle for the people.

Mr. President,

We would like to draw attention to two episodes. The first is our concern about the situation in IDP camp “Al-Haul” (North-East of Al-Hasakah Governorate). Almost 50 thousand refugees have gathered there, women and children in the first place. They all have fled from Hajin that the US-led coalition and their protégés razed to the ground, whereby significant civilian casualties occurred. As far as we remember, no one urged to stop strikes back then.

Now people flee to this camp from Al-Baghuz – another site, flat-ironed by the coalition. You might be told that those are high precision strikes. Same was said about Rakka, where people are still retrieving dead bodies from under the rubble.

It is high time that everybody, including UN mechanisms, abandoned double standards and took an objective look at the situation. The problem of Rukban, which on February 6-14 received humanitarian aid from the UN and SARC, is not about the IDPs who do not want to move to the area controlled by Damascus. On the contrary – the opinion poll carried out in the camp showed that 95% of inhabitants want to leave Rukban. More than that, 80% want to return to the government-controlled areas.

The problem of Rukban is the illegal occupation by the US of a part of Syrian sovereign territory around Al-Tanf settlemet, where they cherish fighters of “Mahavir al Saura” who have stained themselves by establishing ties to terrorists.

As far as we can say, access to this area, as well as exit from it is restricted . Overpopulation, poor sanitation, lack of food and medicines have caused death of dozens of people. Reportedly, there has been a case of leprosy in the camp.

Total responsibility for the lives of Rukban dwellers, according to Geneva Conventions, rests with the occupying power, which is the US. Article 55 of the 4th Geneva Convention says: “The Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population; it should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate.”

According to Article 56, “Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring and maintaining the medical and hospital establishments and services, public health and hygiene in the occupied territory, i.a. to combat the spread of contagious diseases.”

The Conventions emphasize that external humanitarian help does not relieve the occupying power of the responsibility.

What we have is the global humanitarian community, the UN and specialized agencies, donors and partners doing what the US has to do under the international law.

We propose a way out and a sustainable solution to the Rukban problem. We propose to evacuate all those who wish, to the areas of their choice. “All those who wish” are the key words here.

We should implement this concept without further delay and not waste time planning new convoys that only highlight that the international humanitarian law is ignored in this part of Syria. This is what Russian initiative aims at. Since February 19, there have been two corridors for humanitarian guarantees of SARC that would let the civilians out of the camp. People are ready to exit, what they need is to have this exit unblocked.

Thank you.




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