Humanitairian situation in Syria [fr]
« The Syrian population is directly targeted. The price it is paying is unbearable. » - F. Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations. (27 April 2017)
Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, the humanitarian situation in Syria continues to deteriorate. There are 13.5 million people in need of food or sanitary assistance, including 5 million people in hard-to-reach areas and 600,000 trapped in besieged cities and therefore impossible to access for humanitarian assistance.
Humanitarian assistance is France’s top priority in Syria. France’s position has been consistent: the only tangible and lasting solution to the conflict is a political outcome with a resumption of negotiations leading to a political transition . An effective ceasefire is the key for the success of this political transition.
- 1. The population is targeted and a humanitarian assistance is hampered
- 2. The ceasefire and humanitarian assistance are key to the success of a political transition to end the conflict
On April 14, 2017, a convoy of civilians in transit was attacked by a car bomb in the Al Rachidin transit zone, killing at least 130 people, including 67 children. This targeted attack on civilians and perpetrated by Daesh’s forces is not an isolated case. Indeed, many actors of the Syrian conflict directly target civilians, starting with the Syrian regime itself and Daesh. The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria even concluded in 2016 that Daesh is committing genocide against the Yezidi people in Syria and Iraq.
Famine as a weapon of war, forced displacement of people, the use of chlorine bombs and other chemical weapons prohibited by international law, as in 2013, in the Ghouta district in Damascus and more recently on April 4, 2017 in Khan Sheikhoun. In Syria, indiscriminate attacks against civilians by the Syrian regime take place incessantly, methodically and systematically.
The responsibility of all parties to the conflict, in particular that of the Syrian regime, is at stake. According to the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law, these acts constitute war crimes.
The deliberate strikes against UN humanitarian convoys and other impediments to access to humanitarian assistance also constitute war crimes and serious violations of international humanitarian law under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols.
Access to humanitarian assistance is largely hampered in Syria, further aggravating an already disastrous humanitarian situation. The cities besieged by the regime and which nowadays count up to 600,000 people, are beyond the reach of all humanitarian assistance; the administrative burdens imposed by the Syrian authorities on humanitarian workers and the interception of humanitarian convoys also hinder humanitarian aid. The Commission of Inquiry on Syria reports hospital bombings and a deliberate and systematic persecution campaign by Damascus of members of the medical profession that provide care to any person perceived as opposed to the regime.
2. The ceasefire and humanitarian assistance are key to the success of a political transition to end the conflict
a. The UN Security Council is mobilized against impunity and to enforce international humanitarian law
The Security Council has consistently condemned violations of international humanitarian law in Syria and asserted that those who committed these crimes must be brought to justice. (resolution 2165).
In its unanimously adopted resolution 2139, the Council requires all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, immediately authorize rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to United Nations humanitarian agencies and their partners, including through conflict lines and across borders of neighboring countries, in order to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches by the most direct routes those who need it.
The United Nations General Assembly also has repeatedly affirmed the duty of States to ensure the safety and security of United Nations and humanitarian personnel, in particular in resolutions 71 / 127 And 71 / 179 of December 8 2016 and 71 / 159 of December 15 2016.
Lastly, the humanitarian situation will not improve until an effective ceasefire is put in place. In this light, the Council unanimously adopted in December 2016 resolution 2336. It takes note of the Astana Agreement, signed by the parties to the conflict (Syrian regime and Syrian rebel forces) and by the ceasefire guarantors (Turkey, Iran and Russia), that establishes the cessation of hostilities in Syria. In this regard, France calls in particular for the establishment of an international ceasefire monitoring mechanism.
b. The protection of humanitarian personnel and Syrian civilians is at the heart of France’s action in the Security Council
France has consistently committed to uphold international humanitarian law in Syria. On December 19 2016, the Security Council adopted resolution 2328 on the humanitarian situation in Aleppo. This resolution, initiated by France, provided an initial response to the humanitarian emergency facing the city. Among other things, it has made it possible to implement the evacuation of civilians under the supervision of the United Nations and called for the protection of all health personnel and facilities throughout the country.
More broadly, the adoption of resolution 2328 extends France’s action within the United Nations for the protection of civilians and humanitarian workers in armed conflicts. Aldready, in August 2014, France initiated the adoption of resolution 2175 dedicated to the protection of medical personnel and to the respect of medical missions. France also promotes the fight against the impunity of perpetrators of crimes against medical personnel. (Resolution 2286).
Moreover, to avoid resigning to seeing the Security Council paralyzed when mass atrocities are perpetrated, as in Syria, since 2013 France has suggested regulating the use of the veto by permanent members of the Security Council.