NGOs in Syria Call for Immediate Action From the UN Responding to the Systematic Attacks on Humanitarian Facilities
Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres
President of the UN Human Rights Council, Coly SECK
High Commissioner of Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet Jeria
Commissioners of UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria (COI), Mr. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Ms. Karen Koning AbuZayd, and Mr. Hanny Megally
Head of the International Impartial Independent Mechanism (IIIM) on the in Investigating War Crimes in Syria, Catherine Marchi-Uhel.
Since 2011, humanitarian teams in Syria have been subjected to relentless violations: forced disappearance, killing, torture, and bombing of the facility they work in with all kinds of weapons. Also, several reports mentioned using chemical weapons against humanitarian facilities.
Bombing hospitals, schools and humanitarian institutions, which began as a policy of collective punishment, and continued during the past years, had multiplied into a systematic policy, and turned into a war tactics the Syrian regime is using widely to weaken those communities and to deprive civilians from of the basic services in order to displace them and to double effects of the humanitarian catastrophe to an extent that we, the humanitarian organizations, became unable, with whatever we have and with what we can do, to respond to it. Attacks on health facilities increased from 2011 until this day 570, and medical teams lost more than 800 victims of the systematic bombing on health facilities, which the Syrian regime and its allies bear the responsibility of most of these violations according to the reports of international investigation bodies.
Under ordinary circumstances, none of us would choose to remain in community with no medical center to vaccinate our children, no school to teach them, and no water station to supply our families with this basic necessity. Syrian people have been forced to accept and adapt to these inhuman circumstances, but their capacity to cope has reached unbearable limits, even as essential infrastructure continues to be bombed. The latest escalation perpetrated by the Syrian Government and its allies in northwest Syria witnessed unprecedented levels of this tactics as included 38 attacks on health facilities, 45 attacks on schools, in addition to destroying 9 water stations, and many other violations.
We in optimism received the news on the UN SG decision on establishment of the
Many NGOs have participated in the UNOCHA-led DE confliction mechanism of humanitarian facilities and still hope this mechanism will help put an end these attacks, or at least to help seek justice in the long-run. but these facilities were also targeted, like all other facilities. The little number of de-conflicted targeted facilities is attributed to the limited participation of these organizations in this mechanism, not because they are excluded from targeting. We still firmly believe that the mechanism can and must contribute to the documentation of these crimes, a primary step on the long road to achieve justice and to publicize facts about the conduct of parties to the conflict in Syria.
The various investigative mechanisms of the UN should work together, and leverage more effectively to increase pressure on the conflicting parties and change the calculus that underpins the logic of the attacks and to stop these crimes immediately. Reports issued by COI would been more influential if they are released more quickly - within days or even weeks after each attack, opposed to half a year later, when the facts on the ground cannot be so readily – publically – linked to the incidents in the report.
Internal United Nations Headquarters Board of Inquiry to investigate a series of incidents that have occurred in northwest Syria, and we the NGOs signing this letter remain committed to sharing all needed information on incidents and events to be fully communicated to investigators.
We, a group of NGOs ask you to implement the following:
1. The COI, and the IIIM, and the new UN Board of Inquiry should appoint full time experts, based in southern Turkey, in order to facilitate faster investigations, and more regular contact with humanitarian actors. , and to start their investigations once they are informed of attacks on
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humanitarian facilities, so that they can fulfil results of their investigations, as quickly as possible, without waiting for regular reports.
2. UNOCHA should provide the investigators of the UN Board of Inquiry, COI and IIIM with full access to the information of the humanitarian de-confliction mechanism.
3. The Secretary-General of the UN should instruct all the agencies and programs of the UN from UNOSAT of UNTAR, and SSA of WHO and MRM of UNICEF to similarly provide investigators with full access to information related to the bombardment of humanitarian facilities and to supply them with all the support and assistance they need to facilitate their investigations.
4. The UN Secretary-General to ensure that the Security Council receives the results of these investigations in a timely manner so that it can take the necessary steps, as quickly as possible and in time before we lose these facilities and those who work in them.
Our expectations, as NGOs, from an international effort to save our colleagues, the heroes who are still working in Syria, from systematic targeting, achieving justice and punishing the criminals, are very low, but we still have hope that the truth is an important tool, therefore we should avail every effort to use it to save humanitarian activists in Syria. We hope that the establishment of the UN board of inquiry will not take long time, and in the meantime the existing investigation bodies should not exclude those incidents from their investigations. The NGOs amongst us who share information into the de confliction mechanism, and who share incident reporting into the UN system expect and request that this information be used to promote investigation into, and accountability for, the crimes that are being committed.
The Signatories (Coordination Bodies)
- Syrian NGO Alliance (SNA)
- Union of Syrian Civil Society Organizations USCSO
- General Syrian Union
- Syrian NGO Platform
- Syrian Women Humanitarian network
- Watan Network
- Syrian CSOs Coalition
- North-West Syria NGO Forum
The Signatories (NGOs)
- Nor Alkhair Charity
- Ghiras Alkhaeer Humanitarian
- Damascene House
- Ahl Horan Association
- Homs League
- 8Youth for Syria
- International Supporting Woman Association
- Ataa Humanitarian Relief Association
- Alwafa Association for Relief and Development
- Abrar Organization
- Mercy Without Limits
- Jana Watan
- E.D. Organization
- seeds of hope
- BEYAZ ELLER YARDIMLAŞMA DERNEĞI
- RAHMA humanitarian foundation
- Sana Association for Educational and Humanitarian Works
- Basamat for Development
- adaleh foundatoin for relief and development
- International Humanitarian Relief
- Takaful Charity
- Alsham Association
- Baraka Humanitarian
- Himma Youth Organization
- Space of Peace
- Albashaer Humanity Organization
- Albonian Almrsos Humanitarian Organization
- Syrian Engineers for Construction and Development
- Alaml Association For Cancer
- Ehsas Relief Agency
- Alberr Association
- Insan Organization
- Albashaer Humanity Organization
- Shafak Association Organization
- All Together
- Arzaq Humanitarian Foundation
- Health Care Organization
- Sadad Humanitarian Organization