UN report on Syria conflict highlights inhumane detention of women and children

OCHA/Hedinn Halldorsson OCHA staff assist an Iraqi woman taking her four-day-old grandson to a health clinic in Al Hol camp, Syria. (16 June 2019)

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


As the people of north-west Syria face intensifying violence, tens of thousands of women and children continue to be kept in “inhumane conditions” in a remote camp on the other side of the country, UN-appointed independent investigators said on Wednesday.

Describing the situation at Al Hol camp as “appalling”, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria called on the international community to take action.

Statelessness risk for those held in Al Hol camp

Most of the 3,500 children held there lack birth registration documents, the Commission said in its latest report on the conflict.

They risk being left stateless because Member States appear unwilling to repatriate them, fearing extremist links, panel chair Paulo Pinheiro explained.

“Up to 70,000 individuals remain interned in deplorable and inhumane conditions at Al Hol camp, the vast majority of whom are women and children under the age of 12,” he said.

Making an impassioned appeal on behalf of older children from 12 to 18, questioning whether allegations and suspicions of terrorist affiliation levelled against them were correct, he said that the Commission “finds this completely appalling.”

According to the Commission’s report, the humanitarian response to needs at Al Hol “remains woefully inadequate”, with hundreds of preventable deaths recorded.

At least 390 children have died from malnutrition or untreated infected wounds, the investigators said.

In addition, much-needed psychological support is only provided on a limited basis to Yazidi women and children, who fled ISIL massacres in neighbouring Iraq in 2014.

A significant number of those interned at Al-Hol camp also include tens of thousands of people who fled the bombardment of Baghouz town – an ISIL stronghold in eastern Syria – straining further the already severely overstretched humanitarian resources.

‘Enormous strain’ to deliver services

Reacting to the Commission’s findings, the UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it shared the panel’s concerns, adding that more than 30 humanitarian partners face “enormous strain” to deliver services in Al Hol camp.

“People who fled to the camp have suffered under ISIL for years, and many arrived at the camp in poor health”, OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke said, noting that as the camp expanded from 10,000 people “to over 70,000 in a matter of months”, humanitarian organizations ramped up their response.

While needs in Al Hol remain high; services have gradually improved, Mr. Laerke noted, particularly in terms of health, with three new field hospitals in the camp.

Camp managers ‘not interested in future of children’

Echoing Mr. Pinheiro’s appeal for international assistance, panel member Karen Abuzayd insisted that it was not a case of blaming one side or another.

“Those who are in charge of these camps have limited resources as well,” she said. “I mean they’re put in places where there’s not good people in charge”, she asserted,  “or people who are really interested in the future of these children, or anybody else in these camps, women as well.”

Highlighting the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which explicitly calls on States to protect children and register them immediately after birth, Mr. Pinheiro maintained that there was a “shared responsibility of several Member States” concerning the state of the camp. “I think it would be unfair to blame those who are holding those people there”.

Updating journalists on the conflict elsewhere in the country – particularly in Idlib, the last opposition-held bastion and Deir Ez Zor in the east – Mr. Pinheiro insisted that civilians continue to bear the brunt of hostilities.

Over 13 million now displaced by conflict

Well over eight years of war have now displaced 13 million people, according to the Commission of Inquiry report, amid violence involving Government-backed forces, Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS) opposition fighters and the US-led international coalition, as well as Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

In Idlib, “(HTS) terrorists attacked military positions of pro-government forces and indiscriminately launched rockets towards Government-held areas”, Mr. Pinheiro said, “killing and maiming dozens of civilians in the countryside of Aleppo, Hama and elsewhere”.

This was despite an agreement between Russia and Turkey in September 2018 to establish a demilitarized zone in Idlib, he noted.

In an effort to oust HTS fighters, “aerial and ground offensives by pro-Government forces to oust those militants and affiliated armed groups from Idlib, northern Hama, Latakia and western Aleppo escalated dramatically” in February, Mr. Pinheiro added, “destroying infrastructure essential to the survival of the civilian population, forcing almost half a million civilians to flee”.

Violence targeted at terrorists ‘hit hospitals, markets, schools’

According to the Commission’s report, this violence destroyed infrastructure “essential to the survival of the civilian population, including hospitals, markets, educational facilities and agricultural resources, and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee”.

The Commission’s 21-page report also highlights hostilities in the east that included the “large-scale operations” by the US-led international coalition and the Syrian Democratic Forces causing “near complete destruction of widespread destruction” of towns and villages in and around Hajin and Baghuz in Deir ez Zor, Mr. Pinheiro noted.

In areas reclaimed by the Government – such as Dar’a in the south and Duma near Damascus – civilians, including recent returnees, have been arbitrarily arrested and detained, the report maintains. Hundreds of thousands of civilians in both locations also lack adequate access to water, electricity and education, the report adds.          

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

The completion of the European Banking Union attracts billions of new capital for Eurozone banks

This company is breeding millions of insects in the heart of London

‘Once lost, hearing doesn’t come back,’ World Health Organization warns on World Hearing Day

Access to health in the developped and developing world

European Commission adopts new list of third countries with weak anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regimes

Does the West play the Syrian game in Egypt?

Who really cares about the 26.2 million of EU jobless?

Senior UN adviser sees ‘rare’ victory for humanitarian diplomacy as aid convoy reaches desert camp in Syria

Macron crowned king of Europe in Washington D.C.; just a working meeting with Trump for Merkel

Rise in violent conflict shows prevention ‘more necessary than ever’: UN chief

Knowledge management and entrepreneurship: short term vs. long term perspective

Making Europe’s businesses future-ready: A new Industrial Strategy for a globally competitive, green and digital Europe

3 ways governments and carmakers can keep up with the future of transport

The Greta effect? Why businesses are more committed to climate action in 2020

The Great Reset requires FinTechs – and FinTechs require a common approach to cybersecurity

How Japan and Singapore are reinventing old age

The Parliament paves the way for the creation of the European Banking Union

Is academia losing its chance to capitalize on technology?

A brief history of vaccines and how they changed the world

We need to change the fast fashion model. Here’s how

End ‘shame, isolation and segregation’ of fistula sufferers, urges UN reproductive health chief

EU prepares a banking union amidst financial ruins

On International Day, UN stands in solidarity with some 20 detained staff

How to survive the COVID-19 lockdown with a newborn baby

We won’t win the online security war without people power

‘Millions facing starvation’ – Global political and business leaders on the economic impact of COVID-19

The eight types of AI you should know about

Coronavirus: the truth against the myths

African elephants under continued threat of poaching, warns UN-backed report

Cybersecurity should be a source of hope, not fear. Here are 5 reasons why

2013, a Political Odyssey: What future for Italy?

Investment and Financing under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): EU and Chinese stakeholders share their views at European Business Summit 2018

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of Metallo by Aurubis

Climate action ‘both a priority and a driver of the decade’: Guterres

Who is to pay the dearest price in a global slowdown?

Scientists have created biodegradable microneedles to fight eye disease

Vendor Pulse – 2000

Female African coders ‘on the front-line of the battle’ to change gender power relations: UN chief

Energy Union: Commission calls on Member States to step up ambition in plans to implement Paris agreement

Youth and Participation: are the people rising up in Spain? 


The children’s continent: keeping up with Africa’s growth

EU regional differences betray an unjust arrangement

Better housing means better health and well-being, stress new WHO guidelines

A pandemic of solidarity? This is how people are supporting one another as coronavirus spreads

Q and A on the draft digital copyright directive

The financial war touches Frankfurt and Berlin

Is your smart home as safe as you think?

German banks suffer of nausea amidst rough seas

Financiers can turn the world into a dirty and dangerous place

Tackling the toxic norms that hold women back in Asia

Our children’s career aspirations have nothing in common with the jobs of the future

EU budget: Commission takes steps to make €11.5 billion available for crisis repair and recovery in 2020

How nudge theory can help empty our plastic-filled ‘drawers of shame’

Appalling overall unemployment in Eurozone at 20.6%

The EU finally seizes the opportunity to support the sharing economy?

GSMA Announces Final Event Lineup for Highly Anticipated 2019 “MWC Los Angeles, in Partnership with CTIA”

‘The green economy is the future,’ UN chief says in Beijing, urging climate solutions that strengthen economies, protect the environment

On International Youth Day the European Youth Forum calls for true youth participation

Ensuring the ‘lungs of the planet’ keep us alive: 5 things you need to know about forests and the UN

3 steps to strengthen Europe’s competitiveness in the digital age

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s