Uzbekistan Continues to Hold Humanitarian Operation to Return Its Citizens from Syria

Recently, Uzbekistan has been pursuing a purposeful policy to provide an opportunity and take the path of correction for people who have fallen under the influence of destructive ideas. As a result of a consistent policy to ensure human rights and freedoms, special attention is paid not only to those living inside the country but also to Uzbeks who have found themselves in difficult life situations in other countries. All measures are being taken to protect their interests, honour and dignity.

The ongoing reforms in Uzbekistan in this direction are receiving worldwide support. A significant event was the adoption on 12 December2018 by the UN General Assembly of the resolution "Enlightenment and Religious Tolerance,"initiated by Tashkent. It was unanimously supported by all UN member states.

In conjunction with the 28th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, an operation that is locally known as "Mehr-3" which means “Kindness-3" took place. As a result, 98 citizens of Uzbekistan, 25 women and 73 children, were returned to their homeland from Syria. Of those children, 14 are orphans who have lost both parents.

In particular, the government’sofficial delegation, which is on a working visit to Syria, visited the Kurdish camps "Al-Hol" and "Rozh" located in the zone of armed conflicts, where meetings were held with the Uzbek citizens there to resolve the issue and arrange for their return to Uzbekistan.

This visit was organised on behalf of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev and is a continuation of the earlier humanitarian operations "Mehr-1" and "Mehr-2" to remove women and children from zones of armed conflict.

In 2019, as part of these operations, 220 Uzbek women and children were brought back to Uzbekistan from Syria and Iraq. These people—who by mistake left the country and went through a difficult life period—received medical, psychological and moral assistance upon returning to their homeland, where they can enjoy a peaceful life and integrate into society.

After completing a rehabilitation course at the leading republican health institutions, they were provided with various social programs and benefits, they were employed and provided with free housing, and the children were placed in kindergartens and schools.

Today, more than 100 Uzbeks continue to live in the camps "Al-Hol" and "Rozh", mainly women and children, most of whom are under three years old, among them there are orphans. They live in deplorable conditions and have difficulties with drinking water, food and medical services.

According to the UN, there are over 60,000 local terrorists and foreign fighters, as well as more than 10,000 women and children, most of whom are under 12 years old, in the Al-Hol and Rozh camps. Women and children, due to various circumstances, ended up with them, married them and had children. This is a humanitarian crisis for the resolution of which a UN member state is responsible, including to its citizens. In this context, responsibility means returning these people to their homeland, organising their rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

UN experts said that Uzbekistan is one of the few states in the world that is engaged in the export of its citizens from the zones of hostilities, primarily women and children. At the same time, Tashkent demonstrates in practice that each UN member state is responsible for the fate of its citizens, wherever they are. And the experience of the republic is a good example to follow for many other countries, most of which do not even think about it and do not plan to organize the removal of their citizens from “hot spots”.

These people, lost on their way in life, ended up in a difficult situation in other countries. For years they were forced to live in difficult conditions, deprived not only of social protection - the provision of the most basic human rights but also of basic living conditions.

Thus, 73 lives of the returned children were saved thanks to the President of Uzbekistan, and they will be able to calmly grow up, get an education, start families and work for the benefit of their loved ones and the Motherland, helping to build a bright future for the country.

These people, thirsty for kindness and mercy, are now in a modern health establishment, provided with hot meals, clothes and other necessary amenities. Specialists provide them with medical and psychological assistance. Children will be distributed to preschool institutions and general education schools, and women will be employed. They will return to a healthy and calm life, and the necessary conditions will be created for their full integration into society.

Undoubtedly, operation Mehr-3 is a historically important event. The practice of returning its citizens is a priority for any country. At the same time, the political will and position of the leader of Uzbekistan in the reintegration of returned children and women is a humanitarian act that can serve as an example not only for the countries of the region but also for the international community.