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20.07.2018 (17:11)

Joint Coordination Centre of Russian Defence Ministry and Russian Foreign Ministry for refugees returning to Syria holds planning meeting in Moscow

Mikhail Mizintsev:

Today, we hold a planning meeting of the Russian Defence Ministry – Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs Joint Coordination Centre for refugees returning to Syria. The meeting is open and attended by media outlets. It is planned to look through main goals we are faced with, and agree on the further cooperation.

At present, the Syrian government troops supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces are liberating the rest parts of the country from terrorists.

Syrian authorities supported by the Russian Federation take measures to establish peaceful conditions in Syrian regions and restore infrastructure.

The Russian military police assist local authorities to ensure security, and law and order.

Prices for food and medical supplies decreased significantly in regions earlier controlled by armed groups; people are provided with healthcare services.

Under these conditions it is most important to return refugees and internally displace persons to their former places of residence to pave the way for peaceful life and early recovery of the country in general.

Agreements reached by Presidents of the Russian Federation and United States of America in Helsinki facilitate progress in this sphere. In result, the American side received specific proposals to organize return of refugees to places of their former residence.

These proposals stipulate for a joint plane on returning refugees back to area of pre-conflict residence; priority to Syrian refugees leaving Lebanon and Jordan; establishment of the Russian-American-Jordan Group on the basis of the Ammanian monitoring centre, and creation of a similar group in Lebanon.

Besides, we proposed to establish a join group on infrastructure funding for Syria.

The proposals provided by the Russian Federation have already been submitted to the American side for consideration.

In accordance with the decision of General of the Army Sergei Shoigu, the Russian Minister of Defence, the Joint Coordination Centre on returning refugees in the Syrian Arab Republic was set up in order to help Syrian authorities to organize return of refugees and recover infrastructure in the country. The Joint Centre is made up of representatives of the Russian Defence Ministry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the near future, Russian ministries, departments and organizations and our foreign partners as well will join the Centre.

The National Centre for State Defence Control is in charge of the Joint Coordination Centre. The Centre for Refugees Reception, Distribution and Settlement deployed in Damascus directly organizes the operation of the Joint Coordination Centre. At present, the Centre for Refugees Reception, Distribution and Settlement has its branches at checkpoints on the Lebanon-Jordan border. Int her near future it is planned to increase the number of branch given the scope of the challenges ahead.

The Joint Coordination Centre is responsible for the following missions:

1) to organize interservice and international coordination on refugee movements from foreign countries and inside the Syrian Arab Republic;

2) to ensure functioning of checkpoints on the borders of the Syrian Arab Republic;

3) to supervise arrangement of refugee settlement and internally displaced persons in Syria;

4) to provide  refugees and internally displaced persons with humanitarian and medical aid;

5) to organize cooperation with Syrian government authorities on recovering social infrastructures. The priority is given to schools, hospitals, bakeries, power and water supplies systems.

These and other mission will pave the way for mass and organizes return of refugees and internally displaced persons to places of their former residence.

It is to be noted that since 2011, the beginning of combat actions in Syria, more than 6,900,000 people have fled Syria. The most of them are in neighbouring countries – Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. Germany, the UK and Sweden received the max number of refugees among the European countries.

The Syrian government jointly with the Centre for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides are completing their work on defining accommodation possibilities for refugees in the Syrian Arab Republic.

As preliminary assessed, more than 1,700,000 Syrian will be able to return in the near future:

from Lebanon – up to 890 thous.;

from Turkey – up to 300 thous.;

from Jordan – approx. 150 thous.;

from Iraq and Egypt – up to 100 thous. from each country.

Besides, up to 200,000 refugees are expected to return from the European countries.

At present, there are 76 settlements least affected by the crisis to accommodate 336,500 people.

In the first place, it is planned to return refugees from Lebanon and Jordan.

As infrastructure being recovered in Damascus province, the Eastern Ghouta and the cities of Hama, Homs and Aleppo, it will be possible to settle another 550,000-600,000 refugees in 3-6 months.

At the same time, it is evident that the Syrian government needs assistance from other countries and international organizations for mass returning of refugees to create conditions for returning refugees as the economic sector has been exhausted by yearslong military conflict. Infrastructure in cities and towns is destructed by 40-70%.

Social and healthcare suffered significant damage, as well as all industrial sectors and agriculture.

The countries badly needs heavy equipment in the first place (bulldozers, loaders to remove rubbles, dump trucks) and fuel for it.

There is still need for large amount of construction materials and pecuniary means to recover top-priority social infrastructure and housing fund.

Syria needs medical specialists, equipment, medical and food supplies, and drinking water more than ever amid extremely unfavourable sanitary environment caused by damaged sewerage system.

The Russian Federation has already planned and implemented a comprehensive complex of measures to address the abovementioned challenges. However, to achieve complete recovery of the regions affected combat actions against terrorist organizations in Syria, and economics of the country in general, international community should join this work.

We have positive experience in this sphere. It is the second year as the Russian Centre for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides has worked jointly with the UN humanitarian organizations, the ICRC and SARC, and their representatives operating in Syria. As a result, 300 humanitarian convoys safely reached regions affected by war.

Yesterday, another humanitarian convoy delivered 120 tons of food supplies and the bare necessities to the settlement of Bay Jinn, Damascus province.

It is to be stressed that some countries have already contributed to post-conflict settlement.

In early July, 94 tons of humanitarian relief were delivered to Aleppo province by Armenia. Part of this cargo was given to the SARC. Besides, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, China and Serbia have already provided assistance to the Syrian Arab Republic. Measures are being taken to involve other countries in providing assistance to Syria.

Colonel Igor Sergeyev, the senior officer of duty shift of the Joint Coordination Centre, will take the floor to make his report.

Report by Colonel Igor Sergeev

Over the past day, 353 civilians left Southwest De-escalation Zone (309 of them passed via Kafer Shams checkpoint and 44 – via al-Kunya checkpoint).

Since June 27 in total 45,343 civilians left Southwest De-escalation Zone and 6,255 of them have been accommodated at refugee camps of Jeebab and Rsas.

Currently, there are 1,081 people in Jeebab and Rsas camps. Over the past day 231 Syrians arrived at Jeebab camp and 138 – at Rsas camp.

In total, 6,100 civilians were transported on 98 buses from Fua and Kafraya, the Idlib De-escalation Zone, to Jibreen refugee camp, Aleppo province,

Over the past day, 958 IPDs returned to their homes at provinces of Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Damascus which were less affected by war.

Seven out of 45 Russian embassies in foreign counties, where Syrian refugees are seeking asylum, confirm figures received from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on Syrian residents in those areas.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs forwarded instructions to embassies and missions of the Russian Federation in countries, which housed a lot of Syrian refugees, on submitting daily reports on number of Syrian citizens who return to their homeland.

In total, since January 2018, 101,976 Syrians returned to their homes from foreign countries.

Over the past day reconstructions of 17 dwellings was accomplished.

Guardrail is laid down on the Tellbiseh – al-Rastan highway (9.5 km), Homs province. Removing of rubbles of main roads is accomplished by 95%. Restoration of road lights is nearing its completion – the operation is done by 97%.

Power lines along Homs – Hama road are being installed. Over the past day 2 poles were mounted (six in total).

Assessment of infrastructure, socially significant facilities, dwellings and reserves of building materials status was completed in 6 towns:

Hsham, al-Tabia, Hatla, al-Huseiniya (Deir ez-Zor province);

Hanano (Aleppo province);

Tellbiseh (Homs province).

In order to improve living conditions of Syrian citizens and complete a reconstructions of socially significant facilities it is necessary to supply:

towns of Khusham and al-Tabiyah – building, finish materials and hardware in order to reconstruct buildings of three schools, reconstruction of one and building of two water pump stations, four dump trucks for garbage removal, two ambulance cars;

Khatlah, al-Huseiniya, Hanano – three excavators and three bulldozers for digging and rubble removal, two step-down transformers for power restoring, 137 power lines and also hardware for two water pump stations and five bakeries, three fire tankers;

Over the past day three tons of food supplies were delivered to people of Salhiyah town, Deir ez-Zor province.

In total, Russian side organized and carried out 1,871 humanitarian actions and delivered more than 2,800 tons of food supplies, the bare necessities and bottled water.

National Reconciliation Committees continue to assess infrastructure status, determine requirements and solve issues of social welfare of refugees.

Every province has private carriers’ bus shifts which are used on behalf of National Reconciliation Committees.

Centre for Refugee Reception, Distribution and Settlement in co-operation with Ministries for Local Administration and Ecology, Health, Energy of Syrian Arab Republic and National Reconciliation Committees coordinate return of refugees, settlement arrangement, rebuilding of infrastructure and carrying out humanitarian actions.

Report by Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative Andrey Panov

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs consolidates international efforts in order to help Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons to return.

These efforts include a number of actions which are carried out in cooperation with our partners – both states and special United Nations’ and non-government Agencies on different levels.

Russian diplomats in coordination with Russian military arrange returning process with Syrian government.

We apply all efforts to collect exact data on number of Syrian refugees in foreign countries based on figures of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Necessary instructions were sent to embassies in these countries. According to received data, we can conclude that Office’s info for the most part is correct and concur with the data of European Union’s host states.

We use media opportunities of Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (interviews, reports and messages to Media Outlets and briefings of spokesman) in order to notify official partners both and Russian and international community on Russian approach to early and safe return of Syrian refugees and IDPs willingly and also Russian efforts on creation of necessary favorable conditions.

All Russian embassies, Permanent Missions of Russia to European Union, in New York and Geneva were informed about this approach.

Tenth Astana Meeting on Syria which will be held in Sochi on July 30-31 will concentrate on the help to Syrian refugees and IDPs in returning to Syria among other things. And we are looking forward that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will attend the discussion.

In order to overcome consequences of 7-year Syrian crisis such as Refugees and IDPs problem the participation of international community in the restoration of social and economic infrastructure, realization of economic projects  and demining process in Syrian Arab Republic. We stress out that this activity may be – and should be – carried out on collective, depoliticized basis in accordance with the United Nations’ rules on behalf of all Syrians and in all Syrian territory.

The 1951 UN Convention on the Status of Refugees states on inadmissibility of the forced expulsion of refugees to the country where their life or freedom is threatened. Simultaneously the Convention attaches the right of foreign country on calling in return of these people and responsibility of parent state on reception of its citizens and safeguarding of their rights.

We assume that refugees would like to return only in case of securing the safety of their homes, providing out employment opportunities, educational and medical conditions.

On 3 July, the Syrian government addressed to Syrian citizens who were forced to leave their homeland and guaranteed their personal immunity and anti-discriminatory attitude. Along with that, the country, which withstood extreme economic challenges and infrastructure destruction in the result of war and terrorist acts, cannot restore social and economic conditions for Refugees return without off-board assistance.

Meanwhile there is no way of preservation of the condition while a half of Syrian citizens stay beyond their dwellings and millions are abroad where they have to drag out a miserable existence. This situation is a threat not only for Syria, its neighbors – Lebanon and Jordan in the first place – and global security.

We reason our partners that economic and social reconstruction as well as return of refugees and IDPs to their homeland is urgent and priority international task and it depends on complete eradication of terrorism and factors behind it in Syria.

Among main obstacles to this are unilateral financial and economic sanctions against Damascus which were implemented by individual countries and regional organizations. We urge everyone to stop these unwarranted restrictions which slow down restoration of normal life in Syria and settlement of situation in this country on a firm legal basis.

Report by Colonel-General M. Misintsev.

I note that due to the effective and coordinate actions of all parties concerned, about 3,000 (three thousand) Syrians have already expressed their desire to return to the settlements of the West Qalamoun region from the Ersal refugee camp in Lebanon in the next few days. This work is worth respect.

You have already mentioned that the embassies of 45 states, where Syrian refugees seek asylum, have received instructions to confirm the number of migrants, including those willing to return to their homeland, and the procedure for their return.

I ask you to activate this work with diplomatic agencies and other structures in all countries where Syrian refugees are located, in order to clarify their exact quantity and terms of return.

Moreover, it is necessary to ensure that all refugees are to be informed that they are expected at home, especially those who are ready to return. This is necessary to calculate the necessary information about transport, accommodation and other support spheres.

I would like Major General Tsygankov, the Chef of Centre for Refugee Reception, Distribution and Settlement, to report about the implementation of arrangements for the preparation for the reception of refugees in places of permanent residence in the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic.

Report by Major General A. Tsygankov.

After the liberation of Syria from the militants, the efforts of the Centre for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides is focused on post-conflict settlement, creation of conditions for people to return to a peaceful life, including facilitating the return of refugees and internally displaced persons.

For these purposes, the Center for Refugee Reception, Distribution and Settlement was established. The work is underway in close cooperation with the government of the Syrian Arab Republic.

There are officials present who are authorized to address the whole complex of challenges related to the return of refugees.

At present, the Center organizes measures to restore social infrastructure in 48 settlements.

In order to increase the effectiveness of this work, branches of the Center are being established in Abu-Duhur, Salhiyah, Nasib, Zemran and Palmyra (settlement Zaza for work on the al-Rukban camp).

Branches at Nasib checkpoints (Syrian-Jordanian border) and Zemrani (Syrian-Lebanese border) have already been deployed and have started to work.

In the future, the network of branches will expand and cover all checkpoints at the border.

Report by Colonel General M. Misintsev.

Thank you, General! I ask you to focus your efforts on ensuring unimpeded operation of the refugee accommodation points in the provinces of Damascus and Daraa, where refugees are returning to from Jordan and Lebanon as a matter of priority. And secondly, I ask you to actively conduct preparatory work on the opening of other checkpoints in accordance with the decisions already taken.

Report by Colonel M. Kilaseva.

In order to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees from Jordan in the area of the Nasib checkpoint (10 km south of Nasib settlement), a branch of the Center for Refugee Reception, Distribution and Settlement has been established.

It is made up by officers from the border and migration services of Syria and Jordan and the representatives of Syrian authorities - 20 people in total.

A medical center was deployed at the checkpoint Nasib, there is bottled water and hot meals. Opening hours: from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The capacity of the point is 400 people and 50 cars per day.

Over the past two days, 42 people have been delivered to the Daraa from Jordan through the Nasib checkpoint (11 women and 21 children).

The documents have been verified, the relevant municipal leaders have been informed to receive consent. Transportation by vehicles is organized for people in need.

Report by Colonel General M. Mizintsev

Thank you for you report. I will ask to provide a quality control over refugee inflow at the checkpoint and to conduct a 24-hour coordination of their settlement in places of permanent residence.

Starting from July 23 the work of the checkpoint is to be transferred to the 24-hour functioning.

I invite Major Nigmatullin, the head of the branch of the Centre for Refugee Reception, Distribution and Settlement, to make a report on the progress of the Zemrani checkpoint at the Lebanese border.

Report by Major R. Nigmatullin.

A branch of the Centre for Refugee Reception, Distribution and Settlement was established in order to assist the return of Syrian refugees from Lebanon in the area of ??the Zemrani checkpoint (11 km north-west of the village of Al-Jarajir).

Along with Russian servicemen, it includes Syrian border service officers, representatives of the migration services of Syria and Lebanon, as well as Syrian authorities.

A medical center is set up and bottled water and hot meals are available at the checkpoint. Hours of operation: from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The capacity of this checkpoint is 500 people and 50 cars per day.

Over the last three days, 293 civilians (including 81 women and 116 children) came from Lebanon to Falita, the province of Damascus, via the Zemrani checkpoint.

The documents have been verified, correspondent municipal leaders have been informed to give their consent. Transportation by road is organized for people in need.

Report by Colonel General M. Mizintsev

I would like to take this opportunity to thank personally the leaders and, in general, the administration of the Nasib and Zemrani checkpoints for the rapid deployment of checkpoints.

I ask you to ensure, as soon as possible, effective interaction with the Syrian authorities on the full range of tasks.

I invite Deputy Chief of the Engineering Troops of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Major General Smeshko, to report on the progress in infrastructure restoration, demining the area, preparing water supply sources in the planned refugee locations.

Report of Major General K. Smeshko

In order to ensure post-conflict settlement, the following engineering measures were implemented:

servicemen of the Syrian Armed Forces are trained in the branch of the International Mine Action Center of the Armed Forces of Russia in Homs;

As for today, more than 1,200 Syrian engineers have undergone the training course.

The tasks of demining the area and facilities in Tell-Tahun, Talbisah, Kaffer-Laha, the province of Homs, are performed.

As of today, 157 hectares, about 1,500 socially significant objects and dwellings, 27 km of roads have been cleared up. More than 7,500 thousand explosive items were defused, including more than 3, 200 improvised explosive devices.

The complex water treatment station in Deir-ez-Zor has been deployed to ensure water supply.

At present, about 21,000 m3 of water have been cleared, more than 18,500 bottles were delivered.

In other settlements, where refugees plan to return to, water supply is organized from available stationary water supply sources.

Engineering reconnaissance, cleaning the area from explosive objects of the refugee checkpoints are carried out in full scope and guarantee their safe and organized passage.

Report of Colonel General M. Mezintsev.

Thank you, General! I would like to remind you that ensuring the safety of events at the points of reception, distribution and settlement of refugees is a priority area of ??our activity. It is necessary to focus the main efforts with the maximum involvement of trained Syrian servicemen on clearing the area. If necessary, in coordination with the Syrian side, do ensure a reinforcing of engineering groups.

I invite Dmitry Trishkin, the Chief of the Main Military Medical Directorate of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, to report on the sanitary and epidemiological situation in the places where the refugees are planned to be settled, and readiness to provide them with medical assistance.

Report by Trishkin D.V.

To provide medical aid to the population of the Syrian Arab Republic, Russian medical units for special purposes have been deployed as part of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides, as well as leading military medical specialists are sent to Syrian hospitals to provide medical assistance.

Russian military medics in the Syrian Arab Republic on the basis of functioning medical organizations have already provided medical aid to more than 40,000 people, including 4,000 children. More than 1,500 surgeries were performed.

During humanitarian actions held by the Russian Center for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides medical teams go to settlements with necessary equipment to provide reception of patients. Up to 10 medical teams are allocated daily for this work. Up to 100 people are provided medical aid daily.

The Syrian side has received 140 tons of medical supplies, medicine and bandages, as well as one military field medical hospital.

The medical service of the Russian force grouping organizes cooperation with the military medical Directorate of Syria on medical support for returning refugees.

At the checkpoints of Nasib and al-Zimrani 24-hour health control of the refugees is organized.

The sanitary and epidemiological status of the deployed checkpoints and accommodation of refugees is assessed as safe.

Mobile sanitary-epidemiological groups are ready to carry out anti-epidemic measures.

First medical aid is organized. Over the past day, 18 people applied for medical aid at checkpoints.

In the province of Damascus, where refugees will be initially accommodated, 5,400 beds are deployed in 17 medical organizations of the Syrian Arab Republic.

Medical organizations are ready to provide medical care to arriving refugees.

Report of Colonel General Mizincev M.E.

I ask the head of the Centre for Refugee Reception, Distribution and Settlement:

within two days, together with the Syrian authorities, to complete the refugee delivery plan to Syria and their accommodation in the liberated settlements;

from July 23, to transfer the work of all checkpoints to 24-hour mode;

until July 25, to conduct a preliminary calculation of needs for building materials and equipment for the development of the places of accommodation of refugees.

I appeal to the representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Andrey Leonidovich. Over the upcoming week I would like to ask you to complete your work with the countries concerned, the permanent representatives of the Russian Federation to the UN, the European Union and other international organizations in GENEVA to implement the entire range of our proposals.

Members of the Joint Coordination Centre of the Russian Defence Ministry and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make daily updates to the Plan of accommodation of refugees and internally displaced persons in the Syrian Arab Republic by 5:00 AM and 4:00 PM. The second document is a Conceptual approaches to economic recovery to the pre-crisis level in the Syrian Arab Republic and ensure economic growth.

I ask you to organise this work in close cooperation with the Syrian authorities in the relevant areas.

The senior of operational duty of the Interdepartmental coordination center have to make changes every day and specifications in the specified documents by 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. and present it to me for the approval by 7 a.m. and 6 p.m (MSK time).

Dear representatives of mass media, now I address to you.

All the current information about the return of refugees and the restoration of Syria's infrastructure is daily updated in the bulletin, which is brought to all organisations concerned, both in the Russian Federation and abroad. In addition, all information on this issue is promptly updated on the official website of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation.

Joint Coordination Centre of the Russian Defence Ministry and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will inform you on a regular basis about the return of Syrian refugees to their homes and the restoration of peaceful life in the country, in the course of similar events today.

In order to effectively cooperate with interested representatives of countries, organizations and officials, we present the contact numbers of the coordination centre.

Contacts of Russian diplomatic missions in the countries of temporary stay of Syrian refugees are posted on the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia.

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