Five parties to conflict are listed for grave violations in the annexes of the SG’s 2023 annual report on CAAC. In July, the authorization of the cross-border mechanism for delivering humanitarian aid into Northwest Syria is up for renewal, per SCR 2672 (2023). Two devastating earthquakes on February 6, 2023, along with thousands of aftershocks, exacerbated existing child protection concerns from 12 years of ongoing conflict in Syria, causing further damage to civilian infrastructure such as water and sewage, health care, and schools. In a June open letter, 31 Syrian and international NGOs called on the Security Council to renew the authorization of the cross-border mechanism for a minimum of 12 months. The Security Council should:
- Re-authorize Syria’s cross-border mechanism for a minimum of 12 months to facilitate the delivery of principled humanitarian assistance to children and other civilians in need;
- Demand that all parties uphold their obligations under IHL and IHRL, taking concrete measures to prevent and, in any case, minimize child casualties, and call for all perpetrators of grave violations to be held accountable;
- Urge all listed parties, including Syrian Government Forces and the opposition Syrian National Army, including Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam, to develop, sign, and implement action plans to end and prevent violations against children, and call on the Syrian Democratic Forces to promptly and fully implement their action plan;
- Recall that all children formerly associated with armed forces and armed groups (CAAFAG) should be treated primarily as victims, including those allegedly associated with armed groups designated as terrorist by the UN and those who may have committed crimes; their reintegration should be prioritized, and detention should only be used as a last resort and for the shortest appropriate time; call on all parties to facilitate meaningful and systematic access to children deprived of liberty for UN and other independent monitors;
- Urge Member States to facilitate the return of their nationals, including children of their nationals, held for their or their family members’ real or perceived association with ISIL, and undertake individual, rights-based needs assessments, consistent with principles of non-refoulment; provide reintegration and recovery support in line with international law and standards, prioritizing the child’s best interests; and prevent children from becoming stateless.
Brazil and Switzerland are the lead countries on humanitarian issues in Syria.
This information is based on Watchlist’s Children and Armed Conflict Monthly Update – July 2023.
In November, the Working Group received the SG’s fourth report on the situation of CAAC in Syria (S/2023/805), covering July 2020 to September 2022. The CTFMR verified 5,219 grave violations against children, representing a 10 percent increase in verified violations as compared to the previous reporting period. Recruitment and use was the most prevalent verified violation – which more than doubled compared to the previous report. The UN verified 910 children had been detained for their or their family members’ alleged association with armed forces or armed groups, while around 31,000 children are among the 55,500 persons who continue to be deprived of liberty in Hawl and Raj camps in NE Syria. Child casualties (1,891 children) also increased by 30 percent compared to the previous report, and explosive ordnance was the primary cause, followed by ground-based shelling, and IEDs. Rape and other forms of sexual violence continued to be underreported. While attacks on schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian access decreased, the military use of schools and hospitals increased. Abduction more than doubled – the vast majority of cases were attributed to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham. The Working Group should:
- Strongly condemning the scale, severity, and recurrence of grave violations against children in Syria, demand that all parties uphold their obligations under IHL and IHRL, and call for immediate and concrete steps to hold all perpetrators accountable;
- Call on all parties to immediately end all recruitment and use of children, release all children from their ranks; urge all listed parties, including Syrian Government forces, to develop, sign, and implement action plans to end and prevent all grave violations against children, and call on the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to promptly and fully implement their action plan;
- Remind all parties that children associated with armed groups should be treated primarily as victims, including those children actually or allegedly associated with groups designated as terrorist and those children who may have committed crimes; their reintegration should be prioritized in line with international juvenile justice standards; and detention of children should only be used as a last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time;
- Urge Member States to facilitate the return of their nationals, including children of their nationals, held for their or their family members’ actual or alleged association with ISIL, following individual, rights-based needs assessments, provide reintegration support in line with international law and standards, prioritizing the child’s best interests, and prevent children from becoming stateless;
- Call on all parties to immediately cease attacks or threats against schools, medical facilities and transport, their personnel, and other civilian objects; and urge the Government of Syria to take concrete measures to mitigate and avoid the military use of schools and hospitals, and to ensure attacks on these institutions and their personnel are investigated and those responsible duly prosecuted.
This information is based on Watchlist’s Children and Armed Conflict Monthly Update – December 2023.
Perpetrators listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s annual reports on children and armed conflict
|Government forces, including the National Defence Forces and pro-government militias*
|Free Syrian Army (FSA) – affiliated groups*
|Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)
|Nursah Front (also known as Jabhat Fath al-Sham)
|People’s Protection Units (YPG)
|Army of Islam
a: Parties that recruit and use children
b: Parties that kill and maim children
c: Parties that commit rape and other forms of sexual violence against children
d: Parties that engage in attacks on schools and/or hospitals
e: Parties that engage in abduction of children
f: Parties that deny humanitarian access to children
~ This party has concluded an action plan with the United Nations in line with Security Council resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005).
* This party has been in the annexes for at least five years and is therefore considered a persistent perpetrator.