Government forces, including the National Defense Forces and pro-Government militias, and six armed groups are currently listed in the annexes of Secretary-General’s (SG) annual report for at least one grave violation against children. In November, the Security Council will receive monthly briefings on the humanitarian situation, political process, and use of chemical weapons in Syria. Following an announced withdrawal of US troops, Turkish forces with Syrian rebel allies launched a military operation in northeast Syria on October 9 against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). In June, the SDF signed an action plan with the UN to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children. Since recent hostilities began, nearly 80,000 children have been displaced, at least five children have been killed and another 26 injured, and three health facilities/vehicles and one school have come under attack. When the operation started, more than 9,000 children of 40 nationalities were living in Al Hol, Ain Issa, and Roj camps ­– the second of which has reportedly been shelled. As of October 13, only 350 foreign children had been repatriated to their home countries. Despite an announced pause in Turkey’s military operation on October 17, hostilities continued to be reported, and more than 12,000 have people fled to Iraq, with women and children making up nearly 75 percent of new arrivals. The Security Council should:

  • Urge all parties to immediately halt attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, and to allow safe, timely, and unimpeded humanitarian access to civilians in need, including cross-border and cross-line humanitarian access to Syria;
  • Demand accountability for violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law, and encourage the SG to make public the conclusions of the Board of Inquiry in northwest Syria to strengthen future accountability;
  • Remind parties that all children, including those suspected of association with armed groups, are entitled to special care and protection under international law, and should be treated primarily as victims;
  • Call on countries of origin to safely repatriate foreign children and their families, following individual rights-based needs assessments, for the purposes of prosecution, rehabilitation, and/or reintegration, as appropriate, in line with international law and standards;
  • Call on the SDF to promptly and fully implement its action plan, and urge other listed parties to develop and sign action plans to end and prevent violations against children.

Belgium, Germany, and Kuwait lead on humanitarian issues on Syria.

This information is based on Watchlist’s Children and Armed Conflict Monthly Update – November 2019.

UN Action

Year listed: 2012
Action Plans signedNo
Secretary-General’s reports on CAAC in Syria: 2014
Security Council Working Group conclusions on Syria: 2014

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.