Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at the Briefing by High Commissioner for Refugees F.Grandi at the Security Council
We welcome the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and thank him for the briefing.
We appreciate the effective action of the UNHCR during humanitarian crises that create massive flows of refugees. We hope that the new Global Compact on Refugees that Russia supported will help to strengthen the international refugee protection regime.
As of today, assistance to refugees and stateless people is an inalienable aspect of comprehensive efforts to sustain international peace, security and stability.
We share concerns about precarious situation with migration in Europe that has been caused, in particular, by the ongoing uncontrolled influx of people from the Middle East and North Africa. What raises particular concern is multiple cases of death at sea and presence of unaccompanied children in migration flows. We believe we are obliged to say that this situation has to a large extent been caused by a reckless interference in the internal affairs of the MENA States. We should urgently address the situation with refugees and forced migrants in Libya, who remain in accommodation centers and encounter various forms of ill-treatment.
Russia contributes to maintaining the international refugee protection regime. We receive and accommodate many refugees and forced migrants from various countries, including Ukraine, assign significant humanitarian assistance via bilateral and multilateral channels, help the countries of origin to create favorable conditions to get their population back.
Summer 2018, Russia initiated assistance to Syrian refugees that would help those of them who volunteer to return home. We see steady dynamics in this process. On a daily basis, over 1 thousand people enter Syria, mostly from Lebanon and Jordan. Overall more than 177 thousand people have returned to Syria since July 2018.
We should help Syrians exercise this legitimate right. We are convinced that international humanitarian organizations should play an increasingly important role in this process. We call upon the UNHCR to galvanize efforts and assist in repatriating Syrians.
Russia for its part is also active on this track. More and more areas become safe for living. We take active steps to restore basic infrastructure, water and electricity supply, rebuild schools, hospitals, housing units, assist in humanitarian mine action and provide urgent aid to the affected. In Russia, a decision has been made to allocate $1 mln to the UNMAS budget and $3 mln to the budget of UNFAO to support their activities in the Syrian Arab Republic.
We would like to emphasize that the process of getting Syrian refugees and IDPs back to their homes should not be furnished by any artificial circumstances or be politicized, though this is exactly what some do when they use threats against refugees about to return and impede them from leaving refugee camps. Instead of helping refugees get back to places of their permanent residence and be accommodated there, the major part of the international assistance focuses on maintaining refugee camps outside Syria. Thus the situation is only getting conserved.
We are particularly alarmed by the situation in the Rukban refugee camp, where dozens of thousands of people are kept on a ‘humanitarian drip’ in absolutely unacceptable conditions. The overwhelming majority of them want to leave the camp.
Russia has opened two humanitarian corridors to let people out of the camp. The government of Syria has also laid the ground to evacuate people to places of their permanent residence in Latakia, Khalidiyah, Al-Amarah, Homs, Mkhin, Al-Qaryatayn, Palmira and suburbs of Damascus.
The Russian military initiated several coordination meetings to develop a step-by-step plan of action aimed at resettling the Rukban camp. This plan would join efforts of the UNHCR, OCHA, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the Syrian authorities.
We are committed to a dialogue on Rukban with all interested stakeholders, including the UN, US, and Jordan, without any prerequisites and politicizing of humanitarian aspects of this problem.
In conclusion, let me once again highlight that Russia remains committed to providing multilateral support to the UNHCR activities that are crucial for millions of people who had to flee their homes.