Russia Expresses Serious Concern over Decline in Number of Refugees Leaving Rukban

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Russia Expresses Serious Concern over Decline in Number of Refugees Leaving Rukban

Thursday, 11 July, 2019 – 11:30
Humanitarian aid is prepared to be delivered to Syria, in the town of Ramtha, Jordan, July 2, 2018. (File Photo: Reuters)
Moscow – Raed Jabr
Russia has renewed its accusation of the US hindering the exit of refugees from al-Rukban camp in southern Syria, and expressed serious concern about the humanitarian situation in the region.

The Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria issued a statement strongly criticizing Washington’s actions in the region, accusing it of turning a blind eye to militants in Rukban using civilians as “human shields”, a move that aggravates the humanitarian situation.

The Center also expressed “serious concern about a decline in the number of refugees leaving the Rukban camp, due to the desire of militants controlled by the United States to keep them as human shields.”

It explained that militants have constantly increased the financial cost of allowing people to move from al-Tanf zone to the Jleb checkpoint, which falls under the control of the Syrian government.

“We draw to the attention of the international community that further retention by the United States and its allies of Syrian territories, the Rukban and al-Hol refugee camps only delays the end of the conflict in Syria, aggravates the criminal situation, hampers the repatriation of Syrians,” the statement added.

Rukban is located within a 55-km so-called deconfliction zone established by the Pentagon with the aim of shielding the Tanf garrison from attacks.

Moscow has repeatedly called for removing the displaced from the camp and announced with the Syrian authorities the establishment of two crossings for refugee exit, but they failed to convince the displaced to go to areas under regime control.

Washington is ignoring the situation, said Chief of the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria Major General Viktor Kupchishin, adding that refugees abstain from leaving the camp because of the fuel crisis in the region and the increase in crossing fees imposed by US-affiliated militants.

Washington, in turn, accuses the Russians of blocking access of UN humanitarian aid to the region.

As of June 10, 2019, 13,539 refugees have left the Rukban camp, including 2,842 men, 3,817 women and 6,880 children, according to Russian estimates.

On the other hand, a number of Russian military and security experts believe it is time for the Russian tankers to replace Iranian tankers to cover oil shortage to Syria.

Recently, Vladimir Mukhin wrote in Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper saying escalation by Washington and its allies against Damascus and Tehran by trapping oil tankers will have major repercussions if Moscow does not intervene quickly to settle this issue.

Mukhin viewed the seizure of an Iranian tanker by the British Royal Marines as a plan “carefully organized in Washington and London,” recalling a statement by White House national security adviser John Bolton in which he welcomed Britain’s seizure of the tanker loaded with Iranian oil bound for Syria.

The expert said Moscow is currently facing in Syria a new phase of war against the Syrian regime and Iranian leadership.

He added that aside from the blockade on transferring goods to Syria, the United States has unofficially imposed a ban on the purchase of oil produced in Syrian territories occupied by the US forces, which is an attempt to further stifle the Syrian economy.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that last month, five underwater pipelines in Syrian coastal waters from Tartus to Banias were targeted, resulting in a huge oil spill.

The experts agreed that this was a “sabotage act” carried out by militants close to “one of the major military forces hostile to the Assad regime.”

The newspaper believes Moscow should deal with current developments because it reflects an attempt to intensify the pressure on Damascus and block Russian efforts to normalize the situation in Syria.

Israel said to consider sending direct aid to deteriorating Gaza

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israel said to consider sending direct aid to deteriorating Gaza

In new security assessment, security officials assert Hamas not interested in conflict with Israel, but warn that economic collapse would make such a scenario inevitable

Palestinian children do their homework by candlelight during a power outage in Gaza City on September 11, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

Palestinian children do their homework by candlelight during a power outage in Gaza City on September 11, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

Israeli security officials are weighing sending food and medicine to the Gaza Strip for the first time, in an effort to prevent the deteriorating conditions from spiraling into violence, Hadashot news reported Saturday.

In a security assessment handed recently to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the defense establishment reiterated its belief that the Hamas terror group currently ruling Gaza is not interested in another conflict with Israel. However, an economic collapse would make such a scenario inevitable.

Until now, Israel has not directly sent humanitarian aid to Gaza but has helped facilitate the transfer of goods provided by the United Nations and others into the strip.

At the beginning of January the cabinet tasked the national security advisor with drawing up a plan for dealing with the growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza and asked him to report back within three weeks. However, no plan has yet been filed, Hadashot said.

Responding to the Saturday report, a diplomatic official told Hadashot news that “the situation in the Gaza Strip is a result of the tension between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which does not transfer money.”

Palestinian children hold bread patties during a protest against aid cuts, outside the United Nations’ offices in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on January 28, 2018. (SAID KHATIB/AFP)

“Israel has taken steps to ensure that this tension will have as little impact as possible on the humanitarian situation,” the official added.

A similar warning was made earlier this week by UN Middle East peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov, who said the Gaza Strip was on the verge of “full collapse.”

He argued that a key to saving Gaza from disaster was restoring the government of PA President Mahmoud Abbas to power there, a decade after it was forced out Hamas.

Repeated reconciliation efforts between Hamas and Fatah — the party that dominates the Palestinian Authority — have failed to reach an agreement that would return control of Gaza to the PA, most recently because Hamas refused to surrender its considerable arsenal of weapons and military infrastructure.

Earlier this month, the White House froze around $100 million in contributions to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, after the Palestinians announced they would no longer accept the US as a mediator in peace talks with Israel. The Palestinians were angered after US President Donald Trump on December 6 recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Mladenov said he would raise those concerns at the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting, which met last Wednesday in Brussels to coordinate international donor support for the Palestinians.

Israel has maintained a blockade on Gaza for over a decade, which it says is necessary to prevent the Hamas terror group, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, from smuggling in weapons and material used for digging tunnels into Israel. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars, which have severely harmed Gaza’s infrastructure, and reconstruction efforts have been slow.

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