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 for at least one grave violation against children. In April, the Security Council is expected to receive monthly briefings on the humanitarian situation, political process, and use of chemical weapons in Syria. On March 15, the conflict entered its tenth year. According to UNICEF, between 2014, when official monitoring began, and 2019, more than 9,000 children were killed or injured; close to 5,000 children were recruited into the fighting; and nearly 1,000 education and medical facilities came under attack. These numbers represent only verified data, the actual numbers of violations against children are likely much higher. Since December 1, 2019, more than 960,000 people, including 575,000 children, were displaced due to violence in northwest Syria. On March 5, Russia and Turkey reached a ceasefire agreement. Three previous ceasefires have failed. On March 13, the SG’s spokesperson indicated that a summary of the Board of Inquiry (BoI) findings would be shared publicly. In northeast Syria, at least 28,000 children from more than 60 countries remain in displacement camps; only 765 children have been repatriated since January 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic could have potentially devastating impacts on displaced children and vulnerable communities across Syria. The Security Council should:

  • Strongly condemn all violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law 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;
  • Urge the SG to make public the conclusions of the BoI in northwest Syria, including attribution for violations to strengthen future accountability efforts;
  • Demand that all parties allow safe, timely, and unimpeded delivery of principled humanitarian aid and quality health services to civilians in need, including cross-border and cross-line humanitarian access to Syria;
  • 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 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 – April 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.