Syria: UN adviser on preventing genocide expresses outrage at ongoing civilian attacks

9 May 2016

The United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, expressed his outrage today at the ongoing “indiscriminate and seemingly calculated” attacks against civilians and civilian objects in Syria.

In a note to correspondents, Mr. Dieng said that between 27 April and 5 May, there were at least six attacks on medical facilities by different parties to the conflict in the north-western governorate of Aleppo alone, marking the “deadliest” two weeks since the cessation of hostilities accord, which came into effect on 27 February.

“These attacks reflect the continued blatant disrespect of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict, and may constitute war crimes,” the Special Adviser stated. “The international community cannot allow the perpetrators of flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law to enjoy impunity.”

Mr. Dieng emphasized that just a few days ago, in its Resolution 2286 on health care in armed conflict, the Security Council had reiterated the need for Member States to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law and ensure that responsible parties are held to account.

“It is crucial that the Council consistently apply this principle,” he stressed.

Specifically, Mr. Dieng noted that the attack against the Al Quds Hospital on 27 April reportedly killed 55 civilians, including the last paediatrician in the city, while on 5 May, an attack on the Kamouna Internally Displaced Persons camp in northern Idlib governorate killed at least 30 civilians.

“Member States have a duty not to fail the Syrian people yet again and to uphold their pledge to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing,” the Special Adviser said.

In this respect, he said that the international community should “step up its commitment” to end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes in Syria and thus contribute to preventing new atrocities from being committed.

“For this reason, I strongly support the Secretary-General's repeated calls to the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court,” Mr. Dieng said.

In a humanitarian update, a spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today noted that on 4 and 8 May, two inter-agency convoys delivered critical life-saving assistance to 3,250 people in the hard-to-reach Syrian town of Qaratien in Rural Homs province, with food, water, sanitation and hygiene supplies, as well as other relief items.

On 6 May, an inter-agency convoy targeting 35,000 people in the hard-to-reach town of Bloudan, in rural Damascus, delivered essential relief items, including water and sanitation, health, hygiene and education supplies. This was the second of two convoys to the town, the first one of which was in mid-March.

Since the beginning of 2016, inter-agency operations have reached more than 780,000 civilians in need in besieged, hard-to-reach areas and across conflict lines. Many of these people have been reached more than once.


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