RUSSIA’S foreign minister Sergei Lavrov today accused the United Nations of hampering reconstruction efforts in Syria, as the Kremlin-backed Syrian regime continues to urge refugees to return to the war-ravaged country.
Russia, a staunch ally of the Assad regime, is urging the West, which backs the opposition, to help fund reconstruction efforts to reduce the migration pressure on Europe.
Mr Lavrov said that UN’s political affairs department had sent out a “secret directive forbidding organisations belonging to the [UN] system from any project aimed at rebooting the Syrian economy”.
Under the directive, such organisations would only be allowed to deliver “humanitarian aid” until progress was made on a “political transition” in Syria, he said during a press conference in Moscow with his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil.
Mr Lavrov asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to explain why the Security Council “which directly oversees the resolution [of the Syria conflict] was not made aware” of the directive, before denouncing the “lack of transparency and awareness” of the situation within the UN as the decision was being made.
“I hope he can clear this up,” Mr Lavrov added.
The Kremlin official also scolded the US and its Western allies for making assistance to Syria contingent on a political transition process, accusing them of indirectly blocking UN aid and preventing the return of refugees.
Russia is urging Western countries, which backed the Syrian opposition throughout the bloody civil war, to contribute financially to the reconstruction of Syria, saying it would help stem the flow of migrants and refugees to Europe.
Both Moscow and Damascus are working to speed up the return of some 5.6 million Syrian refugees to areas where fighting has ended.
“Over the last month, around 7,000 refugees have left Lebanon for Syria. We are continuing our efforts in that direction,” Mr Lavrov said. “The conditions for this are in place and continue to improve.”
Russia’s unflinching support of Bashar al-Assad’s regime in 2015 redrew the conflict map and marked a turning point in the seven-year conflict.
Moscow’s military aid helped Mr Assad’s forces to retake rebel-held areas: the Syrian government now controls around two thirds of the country.
Syria’s civil war has killed more than 350,000 people and displaced millions since 2011.
Source: The Express