Zakharova Slams UNHCR's Support for White Helmets’ Provocative Actions

MOSCOW- Russia considers any support of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) for the provocative activity of the so-called White Helmets a mistake, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at Wednesday’s briefing, commenting on the information of the UNHCR’s participation in the evacuation of the White Helmets from Syria, according to Itar Tass.

"We paid attention to the media reports of the UNHCR’s participation in the evacuation from Syria of a large group of activists from the notorious White Helmets, that represented itself as a humanitarian organization, but was in fact a tool for the hybrid information-propaganda fight that a number of states conducted on Syrian territory, including through illegal armed groups and such pseudo-humanitarian organizations," she noted. "Unfortunately, the UN’s management confirmed its involvement in these events on the official website."

 The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman noted that by doing so the UN members "are supporting the misinformation campaign of the Western media over the White Helmets as allegedly true and fearless humanitarians," she went on.

"We’d like to draw the attention of the representatives for the UNHCR, an authoritative and merited international structure, to the need to approach their work in a responsible way and avoid moves that may hurt not just their reputation and the image of the international organization, but, most importantly, the effectiveness of the UN’s contribution to the implementation of the most important humanitarian tasks, in particular in Syria," she went on.

"Any support of the UNHCR for the provocative activity of the White Helmets is a big mistake at best," Zakharova stressed.

"The White Helmets are associates of the most dangerous groups in Syria," she said. "The purpose of these (humanitarians) is to slander anti-terrorist efforts in this Arab republic," the diplomat added.

The White Helmets’ evacuation

On July 22, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said Israel had evacuated White Helmets activists and their families from Syria at the request of the United States, Canada and a number of European countries. Israeli army radio Galei Zahal said that in the course of the operation 800 people were moved to Jordan from southern Syria.

This organization has links with the terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra (outlawed in Russia) and operates in its interests. The United States has financed the White Helmets since 2013. US funding has totaled more than $33 million.