Widespread violations of humanitarian law in Syria

Published under: Solberg's Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

“Massive atrocities are being perpetrated against civilians in the war in Syria. The international community, with the UN Security Council in the lead, must stand together in insisting that the parties to the conflict must meet their humanitarian obligations. Ensuring humanitarian access means enabling the UN and other actors to reach all those who need help and to remain where they are needed”, said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

“Massive atrocities are being perpetrated against civilians in the war in Syria. The international community, with the UN Security Council in the lead, must stand together in insisting that the parties to the conflict must meet their humanitarian obligations. Ensuring humanitarian access means enabling the UN and other actors to reach all those who need help and to remain where they are needed”, said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

On Thursday, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos briefed the Security Council on the desperate humanitarian situation in Syria. She particularly emphasised the fact that both the Syrian authorities and elements of the opposition are hindering humanitarian aid agencies in their efforts to help the civilian population. On 2 October last year, the Security Council made a presidential statement reminding the parties to the conflict in Syria of their humanitarian obligations, which include ensuring humanitarian access to the civilian population. So far they have failed to meet these obligations.

“The civil war in Syria has created one of the greatest humanitarian disasters in recent history. The lack of access for the UN and other humanitarian actors is one of the most acute problems in Syria today. Using denial of emergency relief to the civilian population as a deliberate strategy could constitute a war crime,” continued the Foreign Minister.

There have been widespread violations of humanitarian law during this conflict. Both parties have used explosive weapons in densely populated areas, and have done so uncritically and arbitrarily. Civilians have been killed and maimed. Houses, schools and hospitals are being destroyed. The barrel-bombing of Aleppo by the Syrian army is an extreme case in point. Both sides in the conflict have been guilty of military attacks on humanitarian aid workers.

“This week, the parties have held a new round of talks in Geneva. There is no doubt that this has been a difficult process, but despite the lack of results, it is essential to continue along the political track. This is the only way that it will be possible to find a solution and end the war in Syria,” said the Foreign Minister.