Recommendations to the Security Council
Government forces, including the National Defense Forces and pro-Government militias, and six armed groups are each currently listed for at least one grave violation in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s (SG) 2020 annual report on children and armed conflict (CAAC). In October, the Council will receive monthly briefings on the humanitarian situation, political process, and use of chemical weapons in Syria, respectively. In July, the Council adopted SCR 2533 (2020) further restricting cross-border aid delivery to a single crossing point. Briefing the Council in September, Under-Secretary-General (USG) for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock cited local reports that COVID-19’s spread may be much broader than official numbers suggest, with others reporting a ten-fold spike in cases in the last month alone. Between August 6 and 10, eight children under five years old died in Al-Hol camp, where nearly 40,000 children remain stranded, facing further restrictions on access to basic health, nutrition, and education services due to the pandemic. The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria released its latest report (A/HRC/45/31), documenting patterns of gross human rights abuses by nearly all warring parties, including those that would constitute grave violations against children. The Security Council should:
Strongly condemn all violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL) in Syria, and call for all perpetrators to be held accountable, in particular for violations against children and actions that may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity;
Demand that all parties allow safe, timely, and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid and health services to children and other civilians in need; urgently authorize access through recently closed border crossing points Bab al-Salam and Al-Yarubiyah in order to facilitate pandemic response and the delivery of humanitarian assistance;
Remind all parties that all children, including those actually or allegedly associated with armed groups, are entitled to special care and protection under international law, and should be treated primarily as victims, and detention should be used only as a last resort;
Call on countries of origin to safely repatriate foreign children and their families, following individual rights-based needs assessments, for the purpose of reintegration, as appropriate, in line with international law and standards, prioritizing the best interests of the child;
Urge all listed parties to develop and sign action plans to end and prevent violations against children, and call on the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to continue to promptly and fully implement their action plan.