On 25 September 2019, Mr. Hatem Omar, Director of External Relations of the Central Division, signed two of Geneva Call Deeds of Commitments, on the banning of anti-personnel mines and on protecting health care in armed conflicts.
By signing these two documents, the Central Division – a part of the Turkish-backed coalition named ‘The Syria National Army’ – pledged to respect and protect the sick and wounded, whether they are civilians or military, health care workers, as well as health facilities and transport. The group also committed to adhere to a total ban on the use of anti-personnel mines as specified in the Ottawa Convention.
The signature was the result of Geneva Call’s sustained engagement with the Central Division initiated in 2016. In addition, the armed faction’s members have received several trainings on humanitarian norms and the protection of health care in armed conflicts by Geneva Call’s partner, Afaq Academy.
This pledge follows the Central Division’s committment to Geneva Call’s Deeds of Commitment on prohibiting sexual violence and gender discrimination and protecting children in armed conflict, both signed in June 2017.
“The Central Division’s signature of the Deeds of Commitment protecting health care and banning of anti-personnel mines is particularly timely and relevant given their participation in the ongoing hostilities in North-Eastern Syria. We congratulate the Central Division for its commitments and encourage other armed actors to follow this path”, said Geneva Call’s Head of Near and Middle East Region, Amal Van Leeuwen- Hamidallah.
“Through the signature of the Deeds of Commitment protecting health care and banning of anti-personnel mines, we commit to have our fighters applying the rules in these Deeds in our areas of influence and confirm our will to keep respecting humanitarian norms as well as ensure the protection of civilians during armed conflicts” said Mr. Hatem Omar.
Geneva Call, Afaq Academy and the Central Division agreed on a joint session to further discuss the implementation of the Deeds and prepare an implementation plan to concretely enforce these commitments in the field. Additional measures to reinforce their internal policies will be taken and additional training sessions on the obligations of the Deeds for their officers and combatants will be provided. Geneva Call will hold them accountable for these commitments and monitor closely their respect through its monitoring team and network of partners in the field.
The Deed of Commitment is a formal humanitarian commitment that armed non-State actors (ANSA) sign to ensure respect for humanitarian norms. The signature of this commitment does not give any political or legal recognition to these actors. Geneva Call respects the principles of neutrality and impartiality in its work, and strictly limits itself to increase compliance with humanitarian norms by armed non-State actors in order to ensure a greater respect for the civilian populations.