15 Aug 2018 18:06

Moscow urges UN refugee agency to facilitate repatriation of refugees to Syria

KALININGRAD. Aug 15 (Interfax) - Moscow urges the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to avoid political bias and facilitate the repatriation of Syrian refugees as much as it can, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said.

"We urge the Office to act strictly in line with its mandate, avoid political bias, adhere to the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality, humanity, and even-handedness in its work, and concentrate on the most important objective in the current situation: facilitating the repatriation of Syrian refugees to Syria as much as possible," Zakharova said at a news briefing on Wednesday.

"Any support from the UNHCR Office for the provocative activities of the White Helmets is a great mistake at best," she said.

"An interesting thing is happening: international institutions and the international community are involved in the evacuation of the White Helmets, but when it comes to the return of civilians to Syria, the refugees who want to return there - many either distance themselves from this or say it's still too early, it's still unsafe there," Zakharova said.

UN Human Rights Commissioner Filippo Grandi has said that it is still too dangerous for Syrian refugees to return home.