LONDON: The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria released its latest report documenting ongoing human rights violations throughout the country over the last six months of 2022.
The commission also said that the response to the recent massive earthquakes that struck the country was characterized by the failures of the Syrian government and international community to secure the delivery of urgent and life-saving aid to the northwest part of the country.
The commission highlighted that parties to the Syrian conflict, including the UN, failed to reach an agreement on an immediate cessation of hostilities and the facilitation of humanitarian aid through any available route in the critical first week following the earthquake.
“Syrians now need a comprehensive ceasefire that is fully respected, for civilians — including aid workers — to be safe. Incomprehensibly, due to the cruelty and cynicism of parties to the conflict, we are now investigating fresh attacks even in the very areas devastated by the earthquakes,” Paulo Pinheiro, chair of the commission, said.
Pinheiro cited last week’s reported Israeli attack on Aleppo International Airport, which serves as a conduit for humanitarian aid.
“We are currently investigating several allegations of parties to the conflict deliberately obstructing humanitarian aid to the affected communities,” said Commissioner Hanny Megally.
“As aid is now finally increasing, it is more important than ever that they consent to impartial humanitarian relief being delivered unimpeded to those in need, whether through cross-border or cross-line modalities,” he added.
Entire communities have been destroyed, with the UN estimating that some five million people require basic shelter and non-food assistance in the Syrian part of the earthquake zone. Already before the Feb. 6 earthquakes, over 15 million Syrians — more than at any point since the start of the conflict — needed humanitarian assistance.
In government-controlled areas, the report documented rising insecurity in Dara’a, Suwayda and Hama, as well as continued arbitrary detention, torture, ill-treatment, and enforced disappearances. Seizures, auctions, and restrictions on access to property were examples of property rights violations.
Civilians in the earthquake-affected northwest have been particularly vulnerable to deadly attacks in recent months.
Government forces used cluster munitions to strike densely populated displacement camps in Idlib governorate inside the opposition-held area in November, killing seven civilians and injuring at least 60 more.
Furthermore, the commission discovered that conditions for safe and dignified return are still lacking. During the reporting period, some Syrians were denied return outright, while others were arbitrarily arrested or barred from returning to government-controlled areas.