Syria: Urgent call for a sustainable ceasefire and protection for all in Aleppo

Press release
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After 112 days of life under siege for the remaining civilians in Eastern Aleppo, an agreement was finally reached yesterday between the Syrian government and armed opposition groups to evacuate civilians and surrendered opposition fighters.

The ceasefire due to begin this morning has been halted, with the resumption of bombings and shelling, according to FIDH Syrian partner organisations. Evacuation routes have not been secured and attacks against Red Crescent ambulances following the evacuation convoys have also been reported.

FIDH reiterates its call to the Syrian government and its allies to ensure full protection of civilians and captured combatants in Aleppo, and to treat them in accordance with standards of international humanitarian law.

“We just want to have basic rights, the right to stay alive. We are civilians and we just want freedom.”

a civilian trapped in Aleppo issuing a distress call to the international community

In light of this recent information, FIDH calls on all parties to the conflict to unequivocally respect the ceasefire so that civilians can be safely evacuated through the designated humanitarian corridors. It is now urgent that the United Nations (UN) bodies be given access to all areas of Aleppo to ensure that civilians are securely moved to areas of their choice.

Moreover, the Syrian authorities must now enable the UN aid convoys to reach out to the injured and provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Aleppo.

“Humanity has failed Aleppo. Civilians have been trapped in the horror of the Syrian regime and its allies for too long. The international community must strengthen its efforts to ensure a sustainable cease fire and finally secure a safer passage to a safer life for all civilians. It is already too late.”

Dimitris Christopoulos, FIDH President

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has reported that combatants who have fled were arbitrarily arrested or killed on the spot, and several remain disappeared. Families of combatants were also targets for reprisals.

FIDH reiterates that all combatants who have surrendered or have been captured must be protected and treated according to international humanitarian law. Moreover, humanitarian organisations must be granted access to detention facilities.

FIDH is deeply shocked to have witnessed massive systematic attacks against the civilian population in the besieged city of Aleppo. Our Syrian human rights partner organisations have described the daily life of Aleppo residents as “the end of humanity” facing endless bombardments, massive or targeted executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture, as well as total deprivation of food and water without being able to access medical care. Today, there is not a single operational medical facility in East Aleppo, as all hospitals have been bombarded by the Syrian regime and Russia. Our partner organisations have also reported that the Syrian army and its allied militias have been going from house to house executing residents on the spot, as well as targeting houses with fire leaving entire families burning alive.

“The regime forces and its allies are not distinguishing between civilians and combatants, we are all targeted.”

a civilian trapped in Aleppo

FIDH urges the UN to send a monitoring body to the city of Aleppo to document committed crimes in order to preserve evidence for further accountability efforts. Those responsible for the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Aleppo and the rest of besieged Syria, must and will be held accountable.

“The people of Syria must get justice for the horrendous crimes committed for almost six years in blatant impunity, with total inaction from the international community. Accountability and redress must be at the heart of any viable political solution for Syria.”

Mazen Darwish, Director of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, FIDH partner organisation

Thousands of civilians remain trapped and suffering in other besieged areas of the country. All sieges must be lifted and immediate protection granted to all civilians.

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