Millions of Forcibly Displaced Persons in Syria Are in Dire Need of the Means to Survive the Freezing Cold of Winter
Press release (Link below to download full report):
Paris – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) today released its monthly special report summarizing the human rights situation in Syria, outlining the most notable human rights violations documented by the SNHR in November 2021 at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria, in which it notes that millions of forcibly displaced persons in Syria are in dire need of the means to survive the freezing cold of winter.
The 23-page report outlines the most notable violations SNHR documented in November 2021, including the death toll of civilian victims who were killed by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces, as well as the record of cases of arrest/ detention and enforced disappearances. The report also highlights attacks on civilian objects, which SNHR was able to document during this period.
The report draws upon the ongoing daily monitoring of news and developments, and on an extensive network of relations with various sources, in addition to analyzing a large number of photographs and videos.
The report documents the deaths of 86 civilians, including 16 children, eight women (adult female) and two medical personnel, in November 2021, with the highest percentage of killings being carried out at the hands of other parties. Among the victims were six individuals who died due to torture, in addition to two massacres committed by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria.
The report documents at least 228 cases of arbitrary arrest/ detention in November 2021 at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria, including 18 children and two women, with the largest percentage of these carried out by Syrian regime forces in the governorates of Damascus Suburbs then Aleppo.
The report documents at least seven attacks on vital civilian facilities in November 2021, two of which were carried out at the hands of Syrian regime forces, two by Russian forces, and three by other parties.
As the report reveals, November saw the continuation of military operations launched by Syrian-Russian alliance forces in Idlib region in northwest Syria since mid-2021, which have been concentrated in the Jabal al Zaweya district and the surrounding area, as well as in towns and villages of the southern suburbs of Idlib; the airstrikes also focused on targeting gatherings of IDPs in these areas; the intensity of the bombardment escalated on the cities, towns and villages of the western suburbs of Aleppo. In Daraa, Nawa city in the governorate’s western suburbs was subjected to artillery shelling by Syrian regime forces, the first of its kind in the governorate since a settlement agreement was signed there last September, with the shelling resulting in civilian casualties.
The report adds that Russian Air Force continued its periodic attacks in northwest Syria, mostly targeting Armed Opposition positions. The report recorded Russian warplanes carrying out air raids on poultry farm buildings in the suburbs of Idlib which were inhabited by displaced persons, resulting in civilian casualties. As the report documents, northern suburbs of Aleppo also saw artillery shelling by Syrian Democratic Forces and Syrian regime forces particularly targeting Afrin city, north of Aleppo.
In terms of bombings, the report monitors several bombings using explosive devices in Daraa governorate and the suburbs of Aleppo. Ras al Ein city in the suburbs of Hasaka also witnessed a number of bombings with explosive devices of unknown sources. November also saw continuing civilian deaths due to explosions caused by landmines and munitions remnants in various governorates and regions of Syria, mostly in the suburbs of Homs, Idlib and Hama; SNHR documented the deaths of 16 civilians, including seven children, as a result of landmine explosions in November. The report also records assassinations of civilians in the villages and towns of the eastern suburbs of Deir Ez-Zour by unidentified gunmen believed to be affiliated with ISIS. We also recorded assassinations by persons whose identities we were unable to identify in Daraa governorate, in addition to the continuation of assassinations in al Hawl Camp; in November, we documented the deaths of four civilians in al Hawl Camp by gunmen whose identities we were unable to identify, believed to be affiliated with ISIS cells.
As the report reveals, all regions of Syria witnessed an unprecedented economic deterioration at all levels in Novemebr, primarily in the areas under the control of the Syrian regime, where the prices of basic materials and services have risen again, reaching twice their previous price in some cases. In northwestern Syria, the sharp deterioration in the exchange rates of the Turkish lira, which is the currency used in the region, has affected all aspects of life. The areas controlled by Syrian Democratic Forces are also witnessing an increase in the prices of basic foodstuffs, medicines and oxygen cylinders, exacerbating the deterioration of the living conditions there.
In regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, November saw a decrease in documented COVID-19 infections across Syria compared to October. As the report reveals, the Syrian regime’s Ministry of Health officially announced 4,766 cases of COVID-19 infection and 183 deaths in November. The report adds that more infections and deaths due to coronavirus were recorded in November in northwestern Syria, with the Early Warning Alert and Response Network (EWARN) announcing the documentation of 3,732 infections and 396 deaths related to COVID-19 between November 1 and 29 of the same month. As for northeastern Syria, that the collection of statistics on the coronavirus had stopped due to the lack of materials needed to conduct tests which meant that the laboratory had been forced to suspend its work.
In regard to asylum, displacement and forced displacement, the report notes that Syrian Democratic Forces in November allowed two groups of IDPs to leave al Hawl Camp in the eastern suburbs of Hasaka and return to their villages and towns. In Lebanon, a refugee was killed and three others, including two children, were injured in a camp for Syrian refugees in Baalbek city on November 3. The report refers to the exacerbation of the crisis of the refugees stranded on the Belarusian-Polish border, most of whom are from Syria and Iraq.
The report further reveals that evidence gathered by SNHR indicates that attacks have been directed against civilians and civilian objects, with Syrian-Russian alliance forces continuing to commit various crimes of extrajudicial killing, arrest, torture, and enforced disappearance. In addition, the indiscriminate attacks they have carried out caused the destruction of various facilities and other buildings. There are reasonable grounds to believe that the war crime of attacking civilians has been committed in many cases.
The report stresses that the Syrian government has violated international humanitarian law and customary law, and a number of UN Security Council resolutions, particularly resolutions 2139 and 2042 concerning the release of detainees, as well as resolution 2254, all without any accountability.
The report adds that the instances of indiscriminate and disproportionate bombardment carried out by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces are considered to be in clear violation of international humanitarian law, with such indiscriminate killings amounting to war crimes.
The report calls on the UN Security Council to take additional steps following its adoption of Resolution 2254, and stresses the importance of referring the Syrian case to the International Criminal Court, adding that all those who are responsible should be held accountable including the Russian regime whose involvement in war crimes has been repeatedly proven.
The report also calls on the Security Council to adopt a resolution banning the use of cluster munitions and landmines in Syria, similar to the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons, and to include advice on how to safely remove the remnants of such dangerous weapons.
The report additionally requests that all relevant United Nations agencies make greater efforts to provide food, medical and humanitarian assistance in areas where fighting has ceased, and in internally displaced person camps, and to follow up with those States that have pledged voluntary contributions.
The report calls for the implementation of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) doctrine after all political channels have proved fruitless through all agreements, the Cessation of Hostilities statements, and Astana agreements that followed, stressing the need to resort to Chapter VII, and to implement the norm of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ doctrine, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly.
The report calls on the Independent International Commission of Inquiry (COI) to launch investigations into the cases included in this report and previous reports, and confirms the SNHR’s willingness to cooperate and provide further evidence and data, with the report calling on the COI to focus on the issue of landmines and cluster munitions within their next report.
The report also calls on the United Nations Special Envoy to Syria to condemn the perpetrators of crimes and massacres and those who were primarily responsible for dooming the de-escalation agreements, to reschedule the peace process so that it can resume its natural course despite Russia’s attempts to divert and distort it, through empowering the Constitutional Committee prior to the establishment of a transitional governing body.
The report also emphasizes that the Syrian regime must stop its indiscriminate shelling and targeting of residential areas, hospitals, schools and markets, and stop using prohibited munitions and barrel bombs, as well as complying with UN Security Council resolutions and customary humanitarian law.
The report stresses that the states supporting Syrian Democratic Forces should apply pressure on these forces in order to compel them to cease all of their violations in all the areas and towns under their control, adding that Syrian Democratic Forces must immediately stop conscripting children, hold the officers involved in such violations accountable, and pledge to return all children who have been arrested for conscription immediately.
The report also calls on all Armed Opposition factions and the Syrian National Army to ensure the protection of civilians in all areas under their control, and calls on them to take care to distinguish between civilians and military targets and to cease any indiscriminate attacks.
Lastly, the report stresses the need for humanitarian organizations to develop urgent operational plans to secure decent shelter for internally displaced persons, and to provide protected facilities and vehicles, such as medical facilities, schools, and ambulances, with distinctive signs that can be distinguished from long distances, as well as making several additional recommendations.