Letter to members of the UN Security Council and to the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria
Calling on sending mandated human rights monitoring mission to Syria
Date: 17 August 2015
In his briefing to the UNSC on 29 July 2015 Mr. de Mistura urged all parties in Syria to uphold the principle of the protection of civilians and the Syrian government to halt the use of crude and indiscriminate weapons.
The Syrian government, which has an obligation under both the Syrian constitution and the international humanitarian law to protect its civilians “in all circumstances”, is not only failing to protect them but is also targeting them by indiscriminate weapons. The recent and ongoing case of aerial attacks on civilian populated market and areas in Eastern Ghouta that started on Sunday 16th of August and led to the death of more than 120 civilians is clear example of this ongoing practice.
While some armed opposition groups might be involved in armed conflict with the government forces or its allies, these targeted civilians are not involved in this or any other armed conflict. Our direct communication with civil society activists and doctors who are on the ground in Eastern Ghouta confirmed that all casualties are civilians, 30% of them are children under the age of 15 and they were targeted by aerial bombardment by government forces in addition to mortar shells while they were engaging in their routine daily activities mainly amid areas that are very clearly civilian, crowded areas like the open market. The doctors have reported to us that there is a severe shortage of medical personnel and necessities needed to treat all the civilian causalities. Many casualties are dying because of this shortage.
The 350,000 civilians living inside Eastern Ghouta have already been subject to violations of human rights and of the Geneva convention, as they have been denied access to humanitarian aid including medical aid, and they are unable to leave their besieged areas, meaning that they cannot even escape the violence to safety. Only a limited amount of medical aid is allowed in and it covers less than 10% of the needs of the area.
There is a complete absence even for the minimum that could be done by the UN and members of the international community for protecting civilians under siege in Eastern Ghouta and other parts in Syria.
Therefore we urge the United Nations to consider the human rights situation in Syria in particular article 7 (1: a, b, d, e, f, g) article 8 (2: i, ii, iii, iv, vii) of Rome Statute. We demand the UN and its UNSC to fulfill its role, responsibilities, and to apply its resolutions; 2042 (2012), 2043 (2012), 2118 (2013), 2139 (2014) and its presidential statements of 3 August 2011, 21 March 2012, 5 April 2012 and 2 October 2013.
We also call the United Nation to
1. Send a mandated human rights monitoring mission to Syria that can monitor and report on the continuous abuses of human rights and in particular in areas under siege like Eastern Ghouta.
2. To deploy its readily available resources within the country team in Damascus in order to provide protection for civilians in Ghouta including delivering emergency humanitarian and medical aid to inside the area and evacuating the injured and ensuring their safety and to offer the minimum level of protection by presence by being close to the besieged area.
3. To revisit the “besieged” designations of all the besieged areas in Syria and to ensure that giving humanitarian access to these areas is included in the UNSC resolutions concerning aid delivery in Syria.
We also call on the governments that are allies of the Syrian government, including Iran, Russia and China, to take up their responsibility under international law in ensuring that their ally, the Syrian government, stops its violation of international law.
We stress that we are against the violence and violations to humanitarian law by all parties and we condemn and call for an end to the shelling of civilians. We ask the UN to do all it can to protect all civilians in Syria irrespective of their political, religious or ethnic background.