The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) reveals in its report released today that the Secretary-General’s report on Children and Armed Conflict shows that Syria is either the worst or amongst the worst countries worldwide in several types of violations.
The six-page report notes that the Secretary-General’s report has classified Syria according to a number of patterns of violations as the worst country globally in terms of killings and attacks on schools, the second worst country worldwide in terms of the recruitment of children and attacks on hospitals, and the fourth worst country globally in terms of detentions and denial of humanitarian access.
The report refers to the statistics included in the Secretary-General’s report, with which the SNHR report conducts a brief comparison with the figures documented on the SNHR database for 2019, noting that the statistics are largely comparable.
The Secretary-General’s report recorded the killing of 897 children in Syria in 2019, making it the worst country worldwide in terms of killings of children, and the third worst country globally in terms of both killings and maiming of children after Afghanistan, while the documented death toll among children, according to the SNHR database, was close to 900 children.
In regard to attack on schools, the report documents 494 attacks on schools, 157 of which occurred in Syria, making it the worst in the world, followed by Afghanistan and Somalia. The report further confirmed Syria’s status as the third worst country globally in terms of using schools for military purposes, with Syrian Regime forces being the worst offender amongst all the parties to the conflict in terms of attacks on schools, while Syrian Democratic Forces (People’s Protection Units / Women’s Protection Units) were the worst offenders amongst all the parties to the conflict in terms of using schools and hospitals for military purposes, doing so, as the report records, 18 out of 32 times, followed by Syrian Regime forces who did so 13 times, and Hay’at Tahrir al Sham who did so once.
Meanwhile, the SNHR database indicates that 219 incidents of attack on schools were documented in 2019, whether by bombardment or by their being repurposed as military headquarters.
The report also indicates that 433 attacks on hospitals were recorded, with 105 of these occurring in Syria, making it the second worst country in the world for such crimes after Palestine.
In regard to the recruitment of children for military service, Syria came second after Somalia, with 820 children being recruited in Syria in 2019, with Syrian Democratic Forces (People’s Protection Units / Women’s Protection Units) being the worst offenders amongst all the parties to the conflict in terms of child recruitment with 306 cases, followed by Hay’at Tahrir al Sham with 245 cases.
In regard to the detention of children, the report indicates that 218 children were detained or deprived of their liberty in Syria in 2019 out of 2,500 worldwide, with Syria being the fourth worst country in the world in this context after Iraq, Palestine, and Somalia. According to the report, Syrian Democratic Forces (People’s Protection Units / Women’s Protection Units) were the worst offender amongst all the parties to the conflict in terms of detentions, being responsible for 194 cases.
Finally, in regard to humanitarian access, Syria was classified as the fourth worst country in the world in this aspect with 84 incidents verified by the report, with Syrian Regime forces being the worst offenders amongst all the parties to the conflict, being responsible for 59 incidents.
The report refers to the SNHR’s close cooperation with the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism in Syria through a constant monthly sharing of the data which the SNHR’s team has been able to document showing multiple types of violations against children, such as killing and maiming of children, military recruitment, abduction, arrest/ detention, attacks on schools, hospitals, health or educational personnel, sexual violence, and denial of humanitarian access.
The report stresses the importance and vitality of the work of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism in Syria, and adds that the SNHR will continue to cooperate and share data with this body, as we do with a number of other United Nations bodies operating in Syria, which the report considers to be an essential component in the course of attaining justice by exposing the perpetrators of violations and putting pressure on them and on their backers, as a basis for holding them accountable; this will pave the way for progress in leading the way to a transitional justice process moving towards long-awaited stability, democracy and human rights, and thus ensuring that these horrific violations against Syria’s children are not repeated in the future.
As the report reveals, the catastrophic situation facing the children of Syria, which was detailed in the Secretary-General’s report, intersects with the findings catalogued on the SNHR’s database, with the report emphasizing that these violations are still ongoing in 2020, many of which constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes, with the Syrian regime along with its allies, the Russian and Iranian regimes, having been the main perpetrators in terms of the magnitude and intensity of violations in all these types of crimes in general, except for the recruitment of children, where Syrian Democratic Forces / Kurdish People’s Protection Units have been the worst perpetrator of this violation, followed by Hay’at Tahrir al Sham / Jabhat al Nusra, followed by Armed Opposition factions.
The report calls on the supporting states and the European Union to allocate more resources to UNICEF in general and to the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism in particular, and to rely on this database to begin rehabilitating child survivors.
The report confirms that Syria is one of the worst countries in the world in terms of committing several types of violations against children, and therefore it needs a greater amount of assistance compared to other countries and regions, especially considering that the violations are still ongoing to date.
The report also calls on the UN Security Council to issue a resolution based on the data included in the report of the Secretary-General, which stipulates the condemnation of violations, in particular those that constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes, to threaten immediate intervention to protect children from these crimes if they are repeated, in accordance with Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, and to put real pressure on all parties to the conflict to stop all violations against children.
The report recommends that a group of civilized countries of the world that respect international law and human rights should intervene in every possible way to protect children in Syria from crimes against humanity and war crimes, and that they should work seriously to achieve a political transition towards democracy and human rights that guarantees stability and allows the return of displaced children and families to their homes and schools in dignity and safety.