Six parties to conflict are listed for grave violations in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s (SG) 2022 annual report on children and armed conflict (CAAC). The Syrian armed opposition groups (formerly known as the Free Syrian Army) are now listed as the opposition Syrian National Army, including Ahrar al-Sham and Army of Islam, to reflect the composition of these groups. In January, the six-month extension of the authorization of the cross-border mechanism for delivering humanitarian aid into Northwest Syria is expected to be confirmed per a separate resolution, pursuant to SCR 2642 (2022). The Council will also receive its monthly briefings on the humanitarian situation, political process, and use of chemical weapons in Syria. A cholera outbreak was declared on September 10, and according to OCHA, at least one out of every five suspected cases is a child under five years of age. Despite increased repatriations of women and children in recent months, more than 42,400 foreigners remain in camps and prisons in Northeast Syria, approximately 7,000 of whom are children. In November, two girls were found brutally murdered in Al Hol camp, raising concerns about rising levels of violence against women and girls in the camp. Intensified military action in parts of Northern Syria in early December sparked fears of renewed escalation, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation. A recent report by World Vision found an alarming rise in rates of suicide and suicidal ideation among women and children in Northwest Syria, where many are heavily dependent on cross-border humanitarian aid. The Security Council should:

  • Re-authorize Syria’s cross-border mechanism to facilitate the delivery of principled humanitarian assistance to children and other civilians in need;
  • Demand that all parties uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights law (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, 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 allegedly 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;
  • 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, and undertake individual, rights-based needs assessments; provide reintegration and recovery support in line with international law and standards, prioritizing the child’s best interests; and prevent children from becoming stateless.

At the time of writing, the new countries on Syria have not yet been confirmed.

This information is based on Watchlist’s Children and Armed Conflict Monthly Update – January 2023.

UN Action

Year listed: 2012
Action Plans signedSyrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – recruitment and use of children (June 2019)
Secretary-General’s reports on CAAC in Syria: 2018; 2014
Security Council Working Group conclusions on Syria: 20192014

Perpetrators listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s annual reports on children and armed conflict

2001 2002 2003 2005 2006 2007 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
 Government forces, including the National Defence Forces and pro-government militias* a,b,d a,b,c,d b,d,c b,c,d b,c,d a,b,c,d
Free Syrian Army (FSA) – affiliated groups* a a a a a
Ahrar al-Sham a,b a,b a,b a,b
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) a,b a,b,c,d a,b,c,d a,b,c,d,e
Nursah Front (also known as Jabhat Fath al-Sham) a,b a,b a,b a,b
People’s Protection Units (YPG) a a a a
Army of Islam a

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.