Thematic areas: Humanitarian Norms – Landmine Ban – Medical Care – Gender – Child Protection – Humanitarian Access – Protection of Civilian Infrastructure

The conflict in Syria has now extended into its thirteenth year with no end in sight. Economically, Syria has faced deepening crises throughout 2023, characterized by ongoing currency devaluation and an increasing number of households requiring humanitarian assistance for basic survival. This economic stagnation has led to heightened predatory actions by the Government of Syria and armed groups, exacerbating protection risks for civilians.

In North East Syria, persistent tensions prevail due to the presence of multiple international and domestic actors, including the Islamic State. Internal tension and the ever-present risk of renewed conflict further complicate this volatile situation. The humanitarian situation in this region remains dire with civilians grappling with challenges like movement restrictions, forced recruitment, and arbitrary arrests.

In North West Syria, 2023 saw an escalation in inter-armed group and cross-border conflicts. These disputes, along with shifting control areas, have profound implications for civilians, resulting in frequent clashes in public areas, displacement of civilians and increased insecurity. The complex landscape of fragmented armed groups in a confined space leads to widespread violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), with limited avenues for redress or accountability for those responsible.

Geneva Call’s activities in the country

North West Syria Engagement:

  • Signatories to Deeds of Commitment and accompanying Implementation and Monitoring Plans on the Protection of Children and Protection of Healthcare in Armed Conflict took significant steps to implement these Deeds, including amending their code of conduct, internally disseminating the commitments to their members, and establishing complaint committees.
  • Several armed groups vacated schools previously used as military facilities, allowing them to resume educational activities.
  • Armed groups in the Syrian National Army signed Joint Declarations alongside other armed groups in the MENA region committing to protect civilian infrastructure and ensure humanitarian access.
  • Various armed groups agreed to address housing, land, and property (HLP) violations, enhancing their understanding of obligations and establishing effective complaint mechanisms. This effort resulted in the successful return of houses, land, and businesses to their rightful owners, fostering positive feedback from the local population.

North East Syria Civilian Support:

  • Facilitated tribal leaders advocating for the right of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return from camps and detention centers, CSOs lobbying for the restoration of civilian infrastructure and properties, safeguarding cultural heritage sites, advocating for humanitarian and demining services, and opposing the recruitment of minors.
  • Engagement with de facto authorities on the importance of removing restrictions on the free movement of IDPs within NES that limit their access to basic services and employment opportunities.

Key figures

45 armed groups now engaged by Geneva Call.

30 instances of civilian actors taking concrete actions to enhance the protection of civilians.

3 Unilateral Declarations signed by 3 different alliances (representing 26 AGDAs in total).

Over 60 civilian properties (homes, lands, businesses) and civilian infrastructure were vacated by armed groups and restored to their owners or original civilian purpose.

Contact information:

Christopher Kidner – COUNTRY DIRECTOR



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