Syria: protection of civilians must be guaranteed during evacuations from East Aleppo and Kefraya and Foua
20 December 2016
The catastrophic humanitarian situation and the appalling number of grave violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) in Aleppo continue to exacerbate the suffering of the civilian populations.
Geneva Call expresses its dismay at this situation and calls on all parties to the conflict to comply with IHL, in particular to allow the civilian population to move freely and to be evacuated from contested areas if they wish so, and to take all possible precautions and measures to minimize civilian harm during military combat.
Geneva Call insists on the fact that the parties to the conflict must provide guarantees that the evacuees receive the necessary protection not only during the evacuations from East Aleppo and Kefraya and Foua, but also upon arrival to rural Aleppo and Idlib governorate and other areas of arrival.
The organization recalls that humanitarian convoys are protected under IHL.
It also reminds the parties to the conflict that indiscriminate attacks on residential areas, the summary execution of civilians, of surrendered, sick, wounded and detained combatants, the use of civilians as human shields and hostage taking can amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Civilians pay the tremendous price of the obvious disrespect of IHL in Aleppo. Geneva Call takes this opportunity to insist on the need to disseminate IHL to all combatants and to ensure compliance. No efforts should be spared to do this in a preventive manner.
Geneva Call is currently in dialogue with several Syrian armed non-State actors (ANSAs), some of them operating in Aleppo, on the respect of IHL and the protection of civilians. It has, in 2016 alone, trained more than 160 members of Syrian ANSAs and more than 130 members of civil society on IHL, together with its partner organisations.
The organization also runs a campaign called “Fighter not Killer” to raise awareness about the rules of war among fighters from all parties. Between October and mid-December 2016, the campaign was running on Facebook, four TV channels, including Orient TV and Al Aan TVs, and media websites.