Syria: a country that still counts too many civilian victims

Syrian child crying lost and alone in a refugee camp Syrian child crying lost and alone in a refugee camp © Erik De Castro / Reuters

This article is a brief presentation of the Syrian Network for Human Rights’ report on civilian casualties in Syria 

On October 1, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) published his report on civilian victims in Syria and underlined an exponential increase of the toll in September because of which the documented deaths are 1337 since the beginning of 2020 up to October. 

The ongoing civil war and the spread of the pandemic are among the reasons that made the death toll of civilian casualties higher. Indeed, the Syrian regime’s Ministry of Health announced that 197 cases died due to the COVID-19 as of September 29; while the SNHR registered the death of 102 civilians, including 15 children and ten women, either killed at the hand of the parties involved in the Syrian armed conflict or victims of suicide bombings and IDEs in September. Specifically, the Syrian Regime Forces are responsible for the death of 16 civilians, including two children and a woman; one civilian died at the hands of the terroristic group Hay‘at Tahrir al-Sham; the Syrian National Army (the armed opposition to the Syrian regime) caused the death of three people, including one child and one woman; the Syrian Democratic Forces (People’s Protection Units – YPG) killed five civilians. In addition, 77 civilians, including 11 children and eight women, died because of suicide bombings, landmines, and gun fires of unknown sources. 

In addition to the loss of these innocent lives, 45% of which is located in the governorates of Deir el-Zor and Aleppo, the death toll estimated by the SNHR also includes 12 people who died due to torture – ten killed by the Syrian regime and two killed by the YPG - and three doctors. 

These alarming data show that Syria is a country that still counts too many civilian victims, whom the main responsibility must be attributed to the Government, unable both to correctly manage the epidemiological situation and to provide essential services and basic medical care to its population. The presence of 1337 casualties and 13 million of displaced people suggests that the Alawite ruling class is failing in providing a sufficient level of protection to Syrian civilians and is placing personal ambitions and expansionist aims above the lives of its citizens. 

Rebus sic stantibus, the international community must intervene and engage in guaranteeing a higher level of humanitarian assistance and in providing food, medical cares, and essential services both in the areas devastated by conflict and in the refugee camps. Moreover, the Security Council of the United Nations should adopt more effective measure to guarantee the respect of the Resolution 2254, which established that all parties take «all appropriate steps to protect civilians, including members of ethnic, religious and confessional communities»; «calls on the parties to immediately allow humanitarian agencies rapid, safe and unhindered access throughout Syria by most direct routes, allow immediate, humanitarian assistance to reach all people in need, in particular in all besieged and hard-to-reach areas, release any arbitrarily detained persons» and «demands that all parties immediately cease any attacks against civilians and civilian objects as such, including attacks against medical facilities and personnel, and any indiscriminate use of weapons, including through shelling and aerial bombardment». Instead, the SNHR demands a concrete realization of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) – doctrine belonging to the Human Security paradigm – according to which the State’s sovereignty also depends on the effective protection of fundamental human rights and on the guarantee of protection offered to citizens; therefore, any international intervention and missions undertaken have a duty to protect individuals and to put an end to the human massacres.


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Author: Antonella Palmiotti

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