I’m not at home, I’m a refugee. I left my rights behind.
In the world today we need to ensure that no rights are ever left behind.
I’m not at home, I’m a refugee. I left my rights behind.
In the world today we need to ensure that no rights are ever left behind.
The Syrian government’s refusal today to allow a sorely needed humanitarian aid convoy into the town of Daraya is a cruel reality check of the suffering of thousands of civilians besieged there since 2012, Amnesty International said.
The cancellation of the delivery was followed by mortar shelling of Daraya by government forces, killing a father and his son and injuring at least five other civilians. The delivery would have been the first since the siege began more than three years ago but was eventually cancelled after Syrian government forces held it up for some seven hours outside Daraya. It included medical and educational items and baby milk but, critically, did not include food.
“Not only was the limited aid long overdue, and it excluded food, the number one need for thousands of civilians, but it was blocked and then followed by what appears to have been indiscriminate shelling, killing and injuring civilians,” said Neil Sammonds, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Syria.
The UN Security Council should impose targeted sanctions on all those carrying out deliberate attacks on hospitals and other war crimes, said Amnesty International as it released harrowing testimony revealing how hundreds of civilians, including children, have been killed by intensified Syrian government air strikes since 21 April.
The organization interviewed doctors and activists in Aleppo including several who were in the al-Quds civilian hospital when it was attacked on 27 April by the Syrian government. The eyewitnesses described terrible scenes of destruction, said that the hospital was well-known and clearly marked and that the nearest military installation was over a kilometre away.
Al-Dabeet hospital, in the Syrian government-controlled al-Mohafaza area, catering for women and children was also damaged in a rocket attack today. It is unclear where the attack came from but media reports suggest it was from an armed group. A hospital employee told Amnesty International that four women were killed and several more injured when a rocket fell outside the hospital, destroying its emergency room.
On April 29, 2017, the family of Syrian human rights defender and lawyer Razan Zaitouneh marked yet another birthday without her. Instead of celebrating, they are demanding justice and working to ensure that the cases of thousands of “disappeared” people are not forgotten as the Syrian conflict grinds into its sixth year with no end in sight.
On December 9, 2013, Razan, her husband Wael Hamada and their colleagues Samira Khalil and Nazem Hamadi – collectively known as the “Duma Four” – were abducted during a raid by a group of armed men on the offices of the VDC in Duma, near Damascus. They have not been seen since.
Like many other human rights activists perceived by the government to be involved in pro-reform protests, Razan Zaitouneh was forced into hiding in 2011 after receiving threats from the Syrian authorities. In the last few months before her abduction, she received threats from at least one armed opposition group in the Eastern Ghouta area.
Posted at 0001hrs GMT 19 April 2016
The terrifying reality of the Syrian government’s relentless barrel bombing of the besieged city of Daraya, outside Damascus, is made brutally clear in a new video released by Amnesty International today amid the latest round of peace talks in Geneva.
Warning: Video contains graphic content
The organization hopes the harrowing eyewitness footage will spur the international community to re-double its demands on the Syrian government to grant immediate lifesaving humanitarian access to Daraya and all areas still under siege.
Although no barrel bombs have been dropped on Daraya since the partial “cessation of hostilities” came into effect on 26 February, there have been attacks with other weaponry and thousands of civilians who remain in the city continue to suffer from severe food and medical shortages and no electricity.
A poison pen letter has been circulating through e-mail and social media for several years now, which falsely claims that refugees receive significantly more income assistance than Canadian pensioners. Readers of the missive are invited to share the author’s outrage. But the provocative claims have been disproven by the Government of Canada and by the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR).
For example, the Cholokian family will not receive any government assistance from Canada or from their new home province, British Columbia. They came to Canada as privately sponsored refugees. Mania, her spouse Asved, and their two sons arrived on December 31, 2015. The family fled Syria because of escalating violence and spent three years as refugees in Lebanon.
“Refugees come to Canada in different ways, but no matter the category, refugees receive very limited income assistance from the government,” states the CCR. So here are the facts:
A horrifying catalogue of human rights abuses including war crimes and crimes against humanity have overwhelmed Syria over the past five years causing human suffering on a vast scale. Anti-government protests started in the country on 15 March 2011.
“The five years since the uprising in Syria first began have been marred by horror and bloodshed on a colossal scale. From the moment that Syrian government forces first opened fire on peaceful protesters, brutality and civilian suffering have been the tragic hallmarks of this crisis. Government forces have brazenly committed crimes against humanity through the use of appalling strategies such as relentless barrel bomb attacks on civilian areas, a campaign of mass disappearances and systematic, industrial-scale torture. Some armed groups, particularly IS, have exploited the international media spotlight to cynically broadcast their own war crimes, such as the abduction and summary killing of Syrian and foreign civilians.” Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
Five years ago, Bashar al-Assad’s government brutally suppressed mass protests which began on March 15, 2011. The violent response sparked the region’s most severe armed conflict.
1. More than 250,000 people have been killed, according to the UN. War crimes and crimes against humanity are rife.
2. Since then, more than 11 million people have been forced from their homes, including around 7 million people within Syria and more than 4 million who are now refugees abroad, mostly in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Tens of thousands of refugees from Syria have also fled to Europe, often risking their lives in the process.
3. Government forces have repeatedly shelled and bombed civilian areas using indiscriminate weapons, including barrel bombs. They’ve also bombed hospitals, targeted medical workers and mounted long-running sieges of opposition-held areas, depriving people of food, medicines and other necessities. According to Physicians for Human Rights, 112 medical facilities were attacked in 2015 alone, the majority by government forces.
“You have to understand that no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land,” writes Warsan Shire, a Somali-British poet.
On Friday, March 4, 2016, a Turkish court sentenced two Syrian nationals found guilty in the smuggling of 3 year old Alan Kurdi and his family. The photograph of Alan’s lifeless body on a beach in Turkey became the catalyst for an outpouring of sympathy for Syrian refugees in Canada and beyond. Alan’s father, Abdullah must live with the devastating result of joining his family on a tiny boat in the hope they would all find safety. His wife and two sons, as well as two other people, perished on that journey. Far from abating, the number of refugees attempting dangerous maritime crossings continues to grow.
Refugees are fleeing desperate situations and will do whatever they must to save their lives. Often they have no choice but to turn to smugglers to help them escape.
Posted at 0001 GMT 3 March 2016
Russian and Syrian government forces appear to have deliberately and systematically targeted hospitals and other medical facilities over the last three months to pave the way for ground forces to advance on northern Aleppo, an examination of airstrikes by Amnesty International has found.
Even as Syria’s fragile ceasefire deal was being hammered out, Syrian government forces and their allies intensified their attacks on medical facilities.
“Syrian and Russian forces have been deliberately attacking health facilities in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. But what is truly egregious is that wiping out hospitals appears to have become part of their military strategy,” said Tirana Hassan, Crisis Response Director at Amnesty International.
“The latest string of attacks on health facilities north of Aleppo appears to be part of a pattern of attacks on medics and hospitals, a strategy that has destroyed scores of medical facilities and killed hundreds of doctors and nurses since the start of the conflict.”
The Turkish authorities have denied entry to injured Syrian civilians in need of immediate medical care, after fleeing the intense bombardment of the northern Aleppo countryside in the past two weeks, said Amnesty International from the Öncüpınar/Bab al-Salam border crossing.
The organization has also documented how Turkish security forces have shot and injured civilians, including children, who out of desperation have attempted to cross the border unofficially with the help of smugglers.
“People we spoke to painted a tragic picture of the desperate situation for the civilians who remain trapped between daily airstrikes and dire humanitarian conditions. Turkey’s highly selective practice is appalling - only severely injured people are allowed entry to seek medical treatment while everyone else fleeing the violence is left unprotected,” said Tirana Hassan, Crisis Response Director at Amnesty International.
Attacks on at least two medical facilities in Syria today are just the latest of scores of apparently deliberate attacks on hospitals, clinics and medical personnel being committed in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, Amnesty International said.
“Russian and Syrian forces know full well that deliberate attacks on medical facilities are war crimes. All parties to the conflict must cease such horrific attacks, stop destroying medical facilities and allow medical workers to carry out their life-saving work without fear of being killed or injured in the line of duty,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.
An international coalition of over 30 non-governmental organisations today welcomed the ambition demonstrated at the ‘Supporting Syria And the Region’ donor conference in London to increase the scale and scope of the humanitarian response to the Syria crisis, but said that overall pledges for 2016 fell more than $3 billion short of what was urgently needed. The NGOs, including Oxfam, Sawa Aid and Development, and Islamic Relief, applauded the generosity of some donors while encouraging others also to pledge their fair share. They also warned that many Syrians would continue to suffer unless more was done to ensure their protection inside and outside the country, and an end to the violence in Syria.
Refugees in the region
More than 4.5 million refugees from Syria are in just five countries Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt:Turkey hosts 2.5 million refugees from Syria, more than any other country worldwide Lebanon hosts approximately 1.1 million refugees from Syria which amounts to around one in five people in the country Jordan hosts approximately 635,324 refugees from Syria, which amounts to about 10% of the population Iraq where 3.9 million people are already internally displaced hosts 245,022 refugees from Syria Egypt hosts 117,658 refugees from Syria
The UN’s 2015 humanitarian appeal for Syrian refugees was just 61% funded by the end of the year.
Funding shortages mean that the most vulnerable Syrian refugees in Lebanon receive just $21.60 per person month or around US$0.70 cent a day for food assistance, well below the UN’s poverty line of US$1.90
86% of Syrian refugees in urban areas in Jordan are living below the local poverty line.
Conflict in Syria
Posted at 0001hrs GMT 3 February 2016
World leaders in London this week for a high-level conference on Syria must commit to an ambitious and transformational new multi-billion dollar deal for Syrian refugees and the countries hosting them in the region, a global coalition of more than ninety humanitarian and human rights groups said today.
The coalition, representing organisations such as the Malala Fund, Oxfam and Amnesty International, said that to be a success, the conference - co-hosted by the UK, Germany, Norway, Kuwait and the UN - must deliver a bold new plan for Syrian refugees and the communities hosting them.
As the crisis enters its sixth year and ongoing suffering reaches historic proportions in scale and intensity, warring parties continue to commit war crimes, including besiegement and targeting of civilians. 13.5 million people inside Syria are in need of emergency relief and on average, 50 Syrian families have been uprooted from their homes every hour of every day since the conflict began in 2011.