Syria, the UN should implement human rights principles in delivering assistance

Aid convoy driving through the streets of Douma, Eastern Syria Aid convoy driving through the streets of Douma, Eastern Syria 2018 Samer Bouidani/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Image

 23 November 2020 

Human Rights Watch asked the United Nations to activate its human rights framework while delivering assistance to Syria 

Recognizing the difficult operating context for aid groups in Syria, two UN agencies – namely, the United Nations Development Program and the United Nations Department of Political Affairs – developed a series of principles and parameters to be followed by all the UN agencies operating in Syria. However, the guidelines – approved by the Secretary-General – still haven’t been incorporated in any of the UN Syrian aid programs. 

The UN guidelines would require UN agencies working in Syria to take into consideration the impact of their operations on human rights and civilian protection. Furthermore, they forbid UN agencies to provide assistance to parties who are allegedly responsible for war crimes or crimes against humanity. For all these reasons, Human Rights Watch asked the United Nations to fully integrate these guidelines into its aid projects.

The Syrian government has been restricting access of aid organizations to communities in need, selectively approving aid projects and unevenly distributing protective equipment to humanitarian personnel. In July 2020, Oxfam and the Norwegian Refugee Council published a report underlying the difficulties encountered by aid organizations in government-controlled areas, such as bureaucratic delays, difficulties in negotiating certain activities with the government and limits to direct engagement with communities. The restrictions imposed by the Syrian government on aid groups were extended to assistance during the coronavirus pandemic, exacerbating this dramatic situation.

 

To read more, please visit:

https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/11/23/un-implement-human-rights-principles-assistance-syria 

https://www.humanitarianresponse.info/en/operations/whole-of-syria 

https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/media_2020/11/gl.2020.11.23.Letter%20to%20UN%20on%20Principles%20and%20Parameters_Final.pdf 

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/06/28/syria-government-co-opting-recovery-efforts 

 

Author: Margherita Curti; Editor: Matteo Consiglio

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