Extensive, massive violations and the lack of any imminent political solution are major reasons for asylum waves on “death boats”
Press release (Link below to download full report):
Paris – The Syrian Network for Human Rights today released its monthly special report, which summarizes the human rights situation in Syria during the previous month, documenting the most prominent human rights violations committed by the parties to the conflict and the dominant forces in Syria in September 2022. It pointed out that the continuing massive violations and lack of any imminent political solution are the major reasons for the waves of political asylum and the ‘death boats’ wholly unsafe vessels used by refugees, which regularly capsize in the waters of the Mediterranean as people flee in a desperate effort to escape to safety and peace.
The 25-page report provides details of the most prominent violations documented in September 2022, and of the civilian victims, who were killed by the parties to the conflict and the dominant forces during this period, in addition to providing a summary of the arrests/ detentions and enforced disappearances, along with other information. It also sheds light on the attacks on civilian objects which SNHR has been able to document during this period.
In compiling our reports, SNHR relies on continuous monitoring of incidents and news reports and on a wide network of trusted contacts from dozens of diverse sources, in addition to exhaustive analysis of a large number of photos and videos.
In September, the report reveals, SNHR documented the killing of 74 civilians, including 21 children and 3 women (an adult female), most of whom were killed by other parties, in addition to documenting the killing of seven people due to torture, and the commission of at least 1 massacre, by the parties to the conflict and the dominant forces in Syria.
As the report reveals, September saw the arbitrary arrest/detention of at least 167 civilians, including 13 children, and 8 women (adult females) by the parties to the conflict and the dominant forces in Syria in September. The majority of these were arrested or detained at the hands of the Syrian regime forces in the governorates of Rural Damascus and Damascus city, followed by Daraa.
The report further notes that September witnessed at least six attacks on vital civilian centers, three were attacks on places of worship and two were attacks on IDP camps.
The report additionally reveals that September witnessed the continuation of artillery bombardment by Syrian regime forces in the Idlib region in northwestern Syria. This shelling focused on the villages and towns of Jabal al-Zawiyah in the southern countryside of Idlib and the western countryside of Aleppo and the Al-Ghab plain in the western countryside of Hama, close to the line of contact with armed opposition factions. The towns and villages of the western countryside of Aleppo and the southern countryside of Idlib, far from the lines of contact, were also subjected to ground attacks by the Syrian regime forces. Since the first quarter of September, the report also reveals an escalation of Russian air strikes on the northwestern region of Syria, documenting dozens of air strikes that affected civilian and military areas, concentrated on the area of Sheikh Yusuf, Hafsarja and the Sahel al Roj west of Idlib. It also documents the continuation of Syrian Democratic Forces attacks on the northwestern and eastern countryside of Aleppo.
Also in September, the report documents the explosion of a number of explosive devices in the governorates of Dar ‘a, Aleppo and Al-Hasakeh that resulted in civilian casualties; all these were caused by landmines and munitions remnants which continue to pose a severe danger in governorates and various areas of Syria. In September, these explosions were concentrated in the governorates of Idlib, Dar ‘a and Homs, with the monthly death toll from mines reaching 11 civilians, including nine children, bringing the total number of mine victims in Syria since the beginning of 2022 to 112 civilians, including 59 children and 9 women.
The report further notes that the economic, living and services situation has continued to deteriorate in all regions of Syria, as the areas under Syrian regime forces’ control continue to suffer from the steady rise in the prices of living materials, which has further worsened the situation as the Central Bank of the Syrian regime government has increased the exchange rate of the dollar against the Syrian pound officially.
In northwestern Syria, the report reveals that the suffering of civilians has continued in light of the deteriorating economic and living situation at all levels, in conjunction with the high prices of all food, supplies and fuel. The region witnessed an increase in electricity prices in the countryside of Idlib and the city of Afrin in the countryside of Aleppo. In north-eastern Syria, the report recorded the continued deterioration of the living situation in the region in light of the continuous rise in the prices of some foodstuffs, supplies and fuel, due to the high exchange rate of the dollar and the manipulation of shopkeepers of the prices of their materials in the absence of ration control.
With regard to the cholera epidemic, the report notes that the Syrian regime announced for the first time, on 10 September, that 15 cases of cholera had been recorded in Aleppo governorate. The latest statistics published by the Syrian regime indicated that, on 25 September, the total number of cholera cases recorded reached 338, with 29 deaths. The report also stated that the Ministry of Health of the Interim Government in northwestern Syria announced on September 19 the appearance of the first case of laboratory-confirmed cholera in the region, specifically in the city of Jarablus, east of Aleppo. On September 26, the EWARN program announced the registration of the first two confirmed cases of cholera in the camp area in Idlib governorate. On September 21, the Health Authority of the Autonomous Administration of Northeast Syria announced that it had confirmed the presence of Vibrio-cholerae, the bacteria responsible for cholera, in the waters of the Euphrates River. The reported total number of suspected cases of cholera in the eastern region reached 2867, with 78 cases and 16 deaths being confirmed.
The report further states that the suffering of the displaced in northwestern Syria continues in terms of poor living conditions and unfulfilled humanitarian requirements, especially in light of the deterioration of economic conditions, and the increase in the volume of needs, with all these factors reaching record levels, especially given the decline in essential support for relief organizations to cover those needs, the almost complete lack of employment opportunities, and the significant decrease in purchasing power, particularly among the displaced people living in the camps. The report documented the exacerbation of the suffering of displaced people in northeastern Syria, especially due to the spread of cholera, and to the ineffectual levels of funding available to relief organizations that provide essential support to displaced people and contribute to improving the food security of needy families, in addition to the reduction in the already low quantities of relief materials distributed by the United Nations and the increase in delays between the distribution of food aid consignments, which may reach up to four months.
With regard to asylum, the report reveals that Lebanese authorities have continued their efforts to promote their plan to start returning Syrian refugees. The report’ documented a tragic incident in which a boat carrying ‘illegal migrants, mostly Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians, capsized in the coastal waters off Syria after departing from northern Lebanon heading towards Europe where the people aboard hoped to seek asylum, on September 21. The bodies of most of those aboard who drowned appeared on the shores of Tartous province in Syria. The report documents the death of 55 Syrian citizens in this incident, bringing the total number of deaths documented on SNHR’s database for those attempting irregular migration since the end of 2011 up to the current date to about 2,398 people in all, whether from Syria to neighboring countries or from other countries towards safer areas. The report stresses that the Syrian regime and its allies are responsible for f forcing Syrians to risk their lives in such irregular migration journeys in a desperate effort to reach a safer country that provides the most basic requirements for them to live in dignity.
The report further notes that in the seventh year since the start of the Russian intervention on September 30, 2015, the evidence gathered by SNHR clearly shows that ever since that date numerous attacks continue to be directed against civilians and civilian objects by Russian forces, and that the Syrian-Russian alliance forces have committed a large variety of crimes, from extrajudicial killings, to arrests, torture and enforced disappearances. The report notes that these attacks and indiscriminate bombardment by air and ground forces have caused the destruction of homes, schools, hospitals, shops and other structures, and there are reasonable grounds to believe that the war crime of attacking civilians has been committed in many cases.
The report affirms that the Syrian regime has violated international humanitarian and customary law, and UN Security Council resolutions, in particular resolution 2139 and resolution 2042 related to the release of detainees, as well as resolution 2254, all without any accountability.
The report further notes that the continuing indiscriminate and disproportionate shelling carried out by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces is a clear violation of international humanitarian law, with and the group’s indiscriminate killings amounting to war crimes.
The report calls on the UN Security Council to take additional measures after the adoption of Resolution 2254 and stresses the need to refer the Syrian issue to the International Criminal Court and to hold accountable all those involved, including the Russian regime, all of whom have been proven to be involved in the commission of war crimes.
The report recommends that the UN Security Council should adopt a resolution on the prohibition of the use of cluster munitions and mines in Syria similar to the existing prohibition of the use of chemical weapons, which should include points on how to dispose of the remnants of these dangerous weapons.
The report also calls on all relevant United Nations agencies to make far greater efforts in humanitarian, food and medical assistance in areas where hostilities had ceased, in camps for internally displaced persons, and in the follow-up of funding from states which had pledged the necessary voluntary contributions.
The report further calls for the application of the principle of the responsibility to protect (R2P), especially after the exhaustion of political steps through all agreements, statements of cessation of hostilities and Astana agreements, stressing the need to resort to Chapter VII and apply the R2P principle, approved by the United Nations General Assembly.
The report additionally recommends that the International Independent Investigation Commission (COI) should open investigations into the incidents contained therein and in previous reports, and confirms the Syrian Network for Human Rights’ readiness to cooperate in any such endeavors and to provide more evidence and details. It also calls for the issue of mines and cluster munitions to be highlighted in the COI’s next report.
The report also calls on the UN Envoy to Syria to condemn the perpetrators of crimes and massacres and those who are mainly responsible for the destruction of the agreements of reducing the escalation and restoring the peace process to its normal form after Russia’s attempts to distort it and to present the Constitutional Committee to the transitional government.
The report also stresses the need for the Syrian regime to cease indiscriminate shelling and targeting of residential areas, hospitals, schools and markets, and the use of prohibited munitions and barrel bombs, and to comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions and customary humanitarian law.
The report further stresses the need for the countries supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces to press the SDF to cease all their violations in all the areas and towns they control. In the report, the SNHR again calls on the Syrian Democratic Forces to immediately stop recruiting children and hold all officers involved accountable and to undertake to return immediately all children arrested for military conscription.
The report recommends that armed opposition factions and the Syrian National Army ensure the protection of civilians in all areas under their control, distinguish between military and civilian targets, and refrain from any indiscriminate attacks.
The report additionally stresses the need for humanitarian organizations to develop urgent operational plans with a view to securing dignified, safe shelter for internally displaced persons; and to provide care facilities and mechanisms such as medical establishments, schools and ambulances with markings from long distances, as well as making a number of other additional recommendations…