“We are suggesting a solution to the current situation and a lasting solution to the problem of Rukban: this is the evacuation of all those in the camp who express the wish to go wherever they want. All those who express that wish, of course, is the key word here", Nebenzia said, calling on all sides to "urgently start implementing this idea".
The Russian ambassador criticized a plan floated by US Deputy Representative to the UN Jonathan Cohen, who earlier in the council's session called on Russia and Syria to allow another humanitarian aid convoy to access Rukban. Nebenzia urged all parties to stop wasting time and instead reach a long-term solution for Rukban, adding that Washington's calls for more aid convoys underscore its disregard for international law.
Aid deliveries to Rukban have been severely limited in recent years because the camp is situated within the US-controlled zone surrounding its military base in At-Tanf. Nebenzia said the problems in Rukban stem from the illegal US occupation of Syrian territory, a situation that has left the camp completely closed off in a military zone.
US envoy Cohen denied that the United States has impeded voluntary departures from the camp. "The United States insists that any process to arrange for departures be coordinated with the UN and reflect humanitarian principles", Cohen said.
Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the United States and militants under its control had forbidden internally displaced persons from leaving the Rukban camp.
On 15 February, the UN and Syrian Arab Red Crescent delivered aid to the Rukban refugee camp for the first time in months. The Russian and Syrian Joint Coordination Committees on repatriation of Syrian refugees said that most of the aid was likely to be diverted to US-backed militants in the area.