The Arabic version of this statement: https://goo.gl/fl4Xcr
We, the undersigned, call upon the international community, and in particular members of the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG), to take immediate steps to end the major attacks on civilians in southern Syria. The situation there has reached a new low in terms of suffering and humanitarian disaster, which is beyond the capacity of all local service and relief providers.
The latest escalation in the humanitarian crisis in Dara’a province started on 28 December 2015 with the joint Russian-Syrian government military campaign on Sheikh Meskin in Daraa. This disaster worsened dramatically after the takeover of Sheikh Meskin by government forces on 26 January 2016, which resulted in a very high number of IDPs fleeing the city to the western countryside of Daraa.
The upscale of aerial attacks on the area from 5 January on the countryside of Daraa and the takeover of the village of Atman by government forces resulted in an acute rise in the number of IDPs. It should be stressed that there is no evidence of any ISIS presence in these areas.
Around 60,000 civilians have been displaced since the beginning of the military campaign. If it continues, our estimate is that there will be an additional 100,000 IDPs in the coming weeks. Already local civil society actors are stretched way beyond capacity in all fields including health and shelter. There are no more buildings or tents to house people. There is acute shortage in fuel, tents and blankets. The impact of these strikes is felt mainly by Syrian civilians, many of whom already are displaced. Hospitals and civil services have also been attacked.
Syrian civil society in London on 3 and 4 February made clear to donors at the pledging conference that, as welcome as aid was, what was most urgently needed was protection and end to end the indiscriminate use of weapons. The unfolding tragedy in Dara’a is another sad proof of this reality.
In this statement:
1- We call on all parties to fully comply with UN SC resolution 2254, particularly those who voted for it. This “demands that all parties immediately cease any attacks against civilians and civilian objects as such, including attacks against medical facilities and personnel, and any indiscriminate use of weapons, including through shelling and aerial bombardment.”
2- We ask the ISSG to honour its commitment expressed in this resolution “to press the parties in this regard, and further demands that all parties immediately comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law as applicable.” Thus it should work to allow access for humanitarian aid through the United Nations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent, and to prevent the use of civilians for political and military goals through siege and starvation and displacement which constitutes a significant violation of international humanitarian law.
3- We call on the humanitarian community to focus on this area as a matter of urgent priority and to assist local Syrian actors.
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