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Prostitution, human trafficking, sexual slavery thrive in Rukban refugee camp — top brass

Russia's top brass says the Al Rukban camp's administration can't provide security for refugees, so prostitution, theft, sexual slavery of minors and human trafficking run rampant there
Rukban refugee camp  AP Photo
Rukban refugee camp
© AP Photo

MOSCOW, November 16. /TASS/. The administration of the Al Rukban camp is unable to provide security for the refugees, and prostitution, theft, sexual slavery of minors and human trafficking thrive there, the Russian Defense Ministry’s representative in the ceasefire and humanitarian aid groups in Geneva, Yuri Tarasov, said at a meeting of the Russian and Syrian centers for the return of refugees on Friday.

"Another negative aspect of the current state of affairs in the camp is the inability of the local administration to guarantee refugees’ personal safety. On the territory of Al Rukban theft, prostitution and forced marriages are frequent. Sexual exploitation of minors and gender inequality thrive," Tarasov said.

In particular, he said that human trafficking was widely spread.

No registration of marriages, births and deaths is carried out.

"Many temporarily displaced persons in the camp carry no documents. Al Rukban has just four elementary schools. The teachers are refugee volunteers, who have to work without teaching aids or being paid for the job they do," Tarasov said.

Refugee crisis

The United Nations and the entire international community should initiate the termination of the illegal occupation of the territory where the Rukban refugee camp in Syria is located to rescue people staying there, Head of Russia’s National Defense Control Center Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev said on Friday.

Mizintsev made this statement at a session of the Russian and Syrian headquarters for the return of refugees. The session was devoted to the disastrous humanitarian situation in the camp located in the zone illegally occupied by the United States.

"The results of the first humanitarian convoy show perfectly clear the scope of the humanitarian disaster in Al Rukban, which is so enormous that subsequent humanitarian actions initiated now cannot solve the crisis and will only put the situation on hold in the interests of Americans and militant formations controlled by them," Mizintsev said.

"In this situation, the United Nations Organization and the entire international community should immediately initiate this process and resolve this issue once and forever," the general stressed.

The Russian general called on all the members of the headquarters, and also the Foreign Ministries of Russia and Syria to persistently bring Russia’s position and the objective picture on the Rukban camp to the notice of the world public at all venues, first of all, at the UN.

"We are urging the United States of America to immediately stop the illegal occupation of the 55km zone around al-Tanf, which is the sovereign territory of the Syrian Arab Republic. This will automatically resolve the al-Rukban problem itself and help residents staying there return to their homes," the general said.

The position of refugees in the Al-Rukban camp is reminiscent of conditions that existed in World War II Nazi concentration camps, he added. 

"The condition of the camp’s residents reminds one of those in the World War II concentration camps, which at a certain point looked gone never to return. How is that possible in the modern world? This is the first question. Secondly, why in a situation like this does the world community, which professes concern about human rights, prefer to stubbornly keep quiet about the humanitarian disaster of Al Rukban, whose residents are in fact in the position of hostages?" Mizintsev said.

He remarked that official UN agencies, responsible for all-round assistance to refugees, as a matter of fact display no initiative or insistence in tackling the global humanitarian disaster and the appalling conditions of Syrian citizens in the camp.

"Lastly, why the mass media is not allowed to visit refugees in Al Rukban? The explanation is there exists something that some consider worth hiding. Who is responsible for this barbarity? The answer lies on the surface," Mizintsev said.

"The American side has all the way excused its presence on Syrian territory by the need for struggle with the groups of the Islamic State (outlawed in Russia) operating in the region. But in the south of Syria there are none already! Then what’s the purpose of the US forces there? This question, too, requires, a concrete answer," Mizintsev stated.