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

 

Peace Deal ‘first Step’ In Resolving South Sudan Crisis

Children at a protection of civilians site in Juba, South Sudan, run by the UN Mission, perform at a special cultural event in March 2015. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine More>>

Yemen: Killing Or Maiming An Average Of Eight Children A Day

Killing or maiming an average of eight children a day, ‘brutal’ Yemen conflict must end – UNICEF More>>

Changing Habits/behaviours Key To Overcome Vaccine Hesitancy

Vaccine hesitancy can be caused by factors such as negative beliefs based on myths, misinformation. Fear of needles can be a factor for refusal. Photo: PAHO/WHO More>>

Burundi: Ban Condemns Assassination Of Senior Army Officer

Refugees from Burundi in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Photo: OCHA/Naomi Frerotte United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the assassination Burundi’s former Army Chief of Staff, Colonel Jean Bikomagu, who ... More>>

Deadly Industrial Explosions In Northern China

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and the injuries to scores of people as a result of deadly explosions in Tianjin, China. More>>

UN Urges Action To Tackle Deepening Refugee Crisis In Greece

A group of Syrian refugees arrive on the island of Lesbos after travelling in an inflatable raft from Turkey, near Skala Sykaminias, Greece. Photo: UNHCR/A. McConnell More>>

Probe Into Those Responsible For Chemical Weapons In Syria

The US Vessel Cape Ray, on which all 581 metric tonnes of a precursor chemical for sarin gas were removed from Syria and safely destroyed as the ship sailed in international waters in 2014. Photo: US Dept. of Transportation More>>

Myanmar Election: UNICEF Urges Prioritisation Of Children

With 99 days to go before Myanmar elections, UNICEF urges candidates make children the clear winner More>>

Liberia Thousands Of Unregistered Children Born During Ebola Crisis

Thousands of unregistered children born in Liberia during Ebola crisis at risk of exploitation – UNICEF More>>

UN Refugee Agency Envoy Angelina Jolie Visits Myanmar

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie Pitt (left) in Myitkyina township, Kachin State, Myanmar, meeting with some of the 100,000 displaced people who currently live there. Photo: UNHCR/T.Stoddart More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news