The Secretary-General’s (SG) second report on the situation children and armed conflict in Syria was released on November 26. Covering the period from November 16, 2013 to June 30, 2018, the report details violations that the SG has called “a blatant disregard for the life and fundamental rights of children in Syria.” The Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict (SCWG-CAAC) is expected to begin conclusion negotiations soon. In December, the Security Council will receive regular briefings on the implementation of relevant resolutions on Syria, including most notably 2165 (2014), which first authorized cross-border humanitarian assistance, and is expected to negotiate a resolution renewing this cross-border authorization, per Resolution 2393 (2017), which expires January 10. Six armed groups and the Government forces and pro-Government militias are currently listed in the annexes of the SG’s annual report on children and armed conflict (CAC). In the country report, the United Nations verified 12,537 grave violations, with the killing and maiming of children most prevalent, at 7,000 children. The actual scale of child casualties caused by the conflict is believed to be much higher than the number of cases the UN was able to verify through the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM), given the high-intensity nature of the conflict, access limitations, and limited human resources (S/2018/969, para. 26). Indiscriminate attacks on hospitals and medical facilities and personnel are ongoing, with Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis Panos Moumtzis stating that in any other country in the world, one attack on a hospital would generate outrage and calls for action and accountability. Recruitment and use was the second most prevalent verified violation, with 82 percent of the 3,377 verified cases being children in a combat role (para. 14). The report also highlights trafficking and cross-border recruitment and use of children by foreign pro-Government militia and ISIL (para. 15). Indiscriminate air attacks by Government forces, as well as indiscriminate shelling and use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by armed groups, were the leading causes of death and maiming of children. On November 24, for example, Government shelling near a school in Jarjanaz, Idlib, killed 9 civilians, including 7 children and a teacher. Shelling by Government and non-State armed groups, as well as an alleged gas attack by the latter, hit civilians in Aleppo in late November. The Security Council should:

  • Echoing the SG’s call (S/2018/969, para. 58), demand that all parties to the conflict take concrete and effective measures to avoid and prevent child casualties during hostilities, including by immediately ceasing to use indiscriminate or disproportionate means and methods of warfare; as well as to stop unlawful attacks on schools, hospitals, and humanitarian actors, and the use of schools for military purposes;
  • Call for the immediate release of all children associated with armed forces or groups, and urge all listed parties to enter into action plans with the UN to end and prevent recruitment and use of children under 18; this includes the Government of Syria, which despite national law No. 11 of 2013 prohibiting the recruitment of children and their involvement in hostilities, and the development of a national work plan to prevent child recruitment, continued to recruit and use children throughout 2017;
  • Call on the Government to allow sustained, rapid, and unimpeded humanitarian access to hard-to-reach and retaken areas, and displaced populations, including by lifting any impediments that could delay, reduce, or prevent the delivery of assistance to persons in need, without discrimination; and further, allow for civilians’ freedom of movement; as well as implementation of the Idlib demilitarized zone in line with international humanitarian law (IHL) to ensure the protection of children and their families who live there;
  • Call for the acceleration of humanitarian mine action programming, to reverse the growing number of child victims.

Kuwait and Sweden are leading on humanitarian issues on Syrian Arab Republic.

This information is based on Watchlist’s Children and Armed Conflict Monthly Update: December 2018.

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.