Syria

Advocacy

Government forces, including the National Defense Forces and pro-Government militias, and six armed groups are currently listed in the annexes of the SG’s annual report on CAC for at least one grave violation. Government forces and pro-government forces were found responsible for the highest number of verified attacks on schools and hospitals (226) of any warring party in 2019 according to the SG’s 2020 annual report. In July, the Council is expected to receive monthly briefings on the humanitarian situation, political process, and use of chemical weapons in Syria, respectively. Authorization of border crossings for humanitarian assistance is expires on July 10, pursuant to SCR 2504 (2020). On June 22, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for urgent action for nearly 58,000 children who remain confined in displacement camps in northeast Syria, given severe limitations on humanitarian access and added risks of COVID-19. In a recent open letter, 20 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) highlighted crucial gaps in healthcare in northwest and northeast Syria, which severely limit capacity to prevent or respond to the spread of COVID-19, and called for renewal of the cross-border mechanism. The Security Council should:

  • Strongly condemn all violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL) in Syria, and call for perpetrators to be held accountable, in particular for violations against children and those that may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity;
  • Demand that all parties allow safe, timely, and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid and health services to children and other civilians in need; renew cross-border access to northwest Syria for a period of 12 months and re-authorize UN access to northeast Syria through the Al-Yarubiyah border crossing;
  • 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, and detention should be used only as a last resort;
  • 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, prioritizing the best interests of the child;
  • Call on the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to promptly and fully implement their action plan, and urge other listed parties to develop and sign action plans to end and prevent violations against children.

Belgium and Germany lead on humanitarian issues in Syria.

This information is based on Watchlist’s Children and Armed Conflict Monthly Update – July 2020.

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.

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