The Russian government refuses to take in any Syrians claiming to be “refugees” because they quite correctly argue that most of the Middle Eastern state is safe and under control of the government, and there is therefore no reason for anyone to flee that country.
Above: Street scene in Damascus, 2017.
The Russian stance—completely in line with all international refugee conventions—has been highlighted with a new article in the Al Jazeera website, titled “Why Russia refuses to give refugee status to Syrians.”
According to that article, Syrians who have tried to seek “asylum” in Russia “face an uncooperative, if not outright hostile, asylum system.”
Svetlana Gannushkina, head of the Civic Assistance Committee (CAC), a Moscow-based NGO which specialises in trying to flood Russia with fake “asylum seekers,” told Al Jazeera that “There is a perception that it’s difficult for Syrians to get refugee status in Russia. This is not true. It is actually impossible.”
According to CAC figures, as of October 2017, there were 589 people with refugee status in Russia—most of them Ukrainians who fled the recent war and Afghans who arrived after the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in the late 1980s.
There were two Syrians on that list, one of them received refugee status before 2011.
When Syrians apply for “refugee” status or even temporary asylum, they often face rejection, the article continues.
The article goes on to quote one Stasya Denisova, a researcher with the pro-invader “Amnesty International” organization, as saying that authorities often refuse asylum status because applicants cannot prove they are at a greater risk of persecution than others from their country.
“Russia interprets this definition in [the Geneva Convention] in a very narrow [way],” says Denisova.
This does not mean that there are no Syrians in Russia. According to the CAC, about 7,000 live illegally lin Russia, but if they are caught, they are sent to detention centres and deported.
Gannushkina says part of the problem is general hostility towards refugees among state bureaucrats.
“I talked once to a bureaucrat in the interior ministry. He told me, ‘You want us to give refugee status to all these young Syrians? My brother, a young officer, is being sent to fight in Syria,'” recounts Gannushkina.
“‘So my brother will go fight, and we will be feeding here these Syrians. They should go to Syria and defend their homeland, their lawful government,’ the bureaucrat told me.”
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization earlier reported that Russia was “failing to do [its] fair share to help Syrian refugees.”
Since 2011, the HRW asserted, “Russia has not offered one resettlement place for Syrian refugees,” and Russian officials have claimed the question of receiving Syrian refugees in Russia is “not on the agenda.”
Russia also contends that the burden of the Syrian refugee crisis should fall on those countries whose policies contributed to the war in Syria, the HRW reported.