World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Both Sides in Syria Guilty Of War Crimes

Both Sides in Syria Guilty Of War Crimes in ‘Systematic Effort to Cause Civilian Suffering’ – UN Experts

New York, Feb 6 2014 - Government and opposition forces in Syria are committing war crimes by using civilian suffering, such as blocking access to food, water and health services, as a method of war, United Nations experts said today, highlighting the “most critical” situation of a quarter of a million people under siege.

“As reports are piling up of indiscriminate shelling of civilians, enforced disappearances and executions, another horror of the war in Syria is becoming apparent: the deprivation of basic necessities of life and the denial of humanitarian relief as a method of war,” they warned, calling on all sides to halt such actions, in a statement issued by the UN human rights office (OHCHR).

“Numerous cases show that Government and pro-Government forces as well as armed opposition groups are impeding humanitarian relief to populations facing extreme deprivation, including children, women, older persons, persons with disabilities, the chronically sick, and civilians and persons hors combat held in detention,” they said.

The six rapporteurs, unpaid independent experts appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to whom they report, stressed that denial of access to food, water and health services and wantonly destroying housing clearly violate the human rights to food, water, sanitation, housing, health, and freedom from inhumane treatment enshrined in international treaties.

“The acts being committed amount to crimes against humanity, carried out as a deliberate and systematic effort to cause civilian suffering. They also constitute war crimes and serious violations of customary international humanitarian law which binds all parties,” they said.

They stressed that targeting medical units and personnel, making civilians the object of attack, subjecting them to inhumane treatment, obstructing humanitarian relief, attacking objects crucial for the survival of civilians, and using starvation as a method of warfare is explicitly banned.

The UN estimates that 9.3 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid from the nearly three years of conflict that erupted when originally peaceful protestors sought the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011. More than 6 million people are in critical need of sustained food assistance.

The situation is most critical for the quarter of a million people living in communities under siege, such as Nubul and Al-Zahraa in rural Aleppo; Eastern Ghouta, Darayya and Moadamiyah in rural Damascus; the Old City in Homs; and Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus.

The UN estimates that over 100,000 people trapped in and around the Damascus suburb of Yarmouk are now in severe risk of starvation. From other besieged areas, reports are emerging of chronic child malnutrition and health problems caused by a lack of access to vital nutrients and safe drinking water.

“Apart from obstructing humanitarian access through sieges and tight check-points, attacks have been carried out to destroy harvests, kill livestock, and cut off water supplies, with the apparent aim of starving out the targeted populations,” the experts noted.

“At the same time, entire neighbourhoods and residences are being razed, aggravating the dire housing situation, causing further displacement,” they added, also voicing alarm at consistent reports of deliberate destruction of hospitals and medical units, and of arrests, ill-treatment, torture and killings of doctors, nurses, medical volunteers and ambulance drivers.

“These acts are morally abhorrent, and present a major obstacle to building peace,” they stated. “We are outraged by the extreme human suffering caused by the apparent blatant disregard for human rights and humanitarian law. We urge all parties to the conflict to ensure immediate humanitarian relief to the large parts of the population experiencing extreme deprivation. The use of civilian suffering as a method of war must stop.”

The experts are: Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter; Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Anand Grover; Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context, Raquel Rolnik; Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns; Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez; and Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque.

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Israeli Soldier Kills PA Minister At Non-Violent Protest

Yesterday, an Israeli soldier killed Palestinian Authority (PA) Settlment minister, Ziad Abu Ein, at a non-violent demonstration in the village of Turmusaya. More>>

ALSO:

  • Palestinian Centre For Human Rights - Ban on Palestinians claiming compensation against military
  • Pakistan School Killings

    GENEVA (16 December 2014) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Tuesday condemned what he described as “an utterly despicable and incomprehensibly vicious attack on defenceless children” at a co-educational school ... More>>

    ALSO:


    Sobering Data On American's Apathy About CIA Torture

    Despite a scathing report on torture, a majority of survey respondents approve of the CIA's grisly methods. More>>

    Sea Shepherd Intercepts Toothfish Poachers

    Yesterday, at approximately 2152 AEDT, the Sea Shepherd conservation ship, Bob Barker, intercepted the illegal fishing vessel Thunder, at 62 15’ South, 81 24’ East, inside the CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) ... More>>

    The White House: Charting A New Course On Cuba

    We are separated by 90 miles of water, but brought together through the relationships between the two million Cubans and Americans of Cuban descent that live in the United States, and the 11 million Cubans who share similar hopes for a more positive future for Cuba. More>>

    ALSO:


    Journalist Most Recent Victim Of Israeli Military

    Bashar, a journalist from Palestine TV, was shot in the left leg at Kufr Qaddum on Friday the 5th of December 2014. More>>

    ALSO:

  • Palestinian Centre For Human Rights - Swiss government’s bid to convene a summit on Palestine
  • UN News - UN-backed reconstruction efforts continue in Gaza
  • UNICEF Mobilizes To Reach People Affected By Typhoon

    As Typhoon Hagupit wreaks havoc through the Philippines, UNICEF is acting quickly to support the Filipino government’s response to the emergency, providing lifesaving supplies and services for children and women in the areas hardest hit by cyclone-force ... More>>

    ALSO:

  • FAO - FAO praises government for early typhoon warnings
  • Get More From Scoop

     
     
     
     
     
    World
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news