Government forces, including the National Defense Forces and pro-Government militias, and six armed groups are currently listed. In September, the Security Council will receive monthly briefings on the humanitarian situation, the political process, and the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Since April, a Syrian government-led and Russian-backed offensive on northwest Syria has had devastating impacts on children, further exacerbated after the collapse of a conditional ceasefire on August 5. According to Save the Children, 17 children were killed in Idlib in just 17 days since the ceasefire fell apart, and at least 40,000 children were forcibly displaced – often not for the first time – in less than three weeks. According to UNICEF, there have been more than 73 attacks on education facilities and 49 attacks on health facilities in northwestern Syria, including Idlib, Aleppo, and Hama, since the beginning of 2019; the agency has also documented 29 attacks on water stations, affecting the water supply to over 610,000 people. On August 1, the Secretary-General announced the establishment of an internal UN Board of Inquiry (BoI) to investigate attacks on UN-supported health care facilities and protected civilian sites that were on a list provided to Syrian authorities for deconfliction. The situation of children with real or perceived affiliation with the Islamic State (IS), including children of foreign fighters, also remains deeply concerning. Al-Hol camp continues to house over 70,000 displaced civilians, some 94 percent of whom are women and children; many of these children face restrictions on their freedom of movement, stigmatization, statelessness, and other rights abuses as a result of their alleged ties with the armed group.

Security Council Members should:

  • Urge all parties to immediately halt attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, and to respect the latest ceasefire;
  • Demand accountability for ongoing violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law in northwestern Syria, including by calling on the Secretary-General to urgently appoint the BoI to investigate the recent series of attacks and attribute responsibility for incidents; furthermore, request the Secretary-General to make public the BoI’s findings and recommendations;
  • Remind all 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 first and foremost 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, and in line with international law and standards.

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

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