A letter to Mr. Staffan de Mistura regarding the latest developments in Idlib
Monday 10th September 2018 07:24 AM
To the states guarantors of the De Escalation zones agreement, and the states members of the ISSG.
Statements and news run daily about possible scenarios for north west Syria. All of them concentrate on a military action enhancing the logic of using force and contradicting with all the UNSC resolutions about the political solution in Syria. Syria, during the past seven years, have witnessed huge humanitarian catastrophes, including enforced displacement of millions of Syrians from their homes to other regions, result of the escalation of violence in many parts of the country. Today there are talks about using violence once more despite the disastrous effects of that on the Syrians, on the huge burdens imposed on the neighboring countries, and the countries hosting Syrian refugees.
Now, more than three million people live in north Syria, about half of them are displaced from other regions in Syria already devastated by the war for many years. Now, again, we hear that a military solution is adopted to strike terrorism in the north, but no voices call for stopping violence and work for a peaceful solution according to the international legitimacy and the UNSC resolutions. All what we hear now are voices warning of the use of none conventional weapons, as if using other destructive weapons, as was the case in other parts in Syria, is reconcilable as far as these weapons are not categorized as none conventional weapons. In addition, Syria witnessed an escalating wave of violence against humanitarian workers and infrastructure in all the Syrian regions ignoring the least standards and mechanisms of protecting humanitarian activities, in the past 15 days 6 hospitals were targeted in northwest of Syria, 2 of them at least have shared their coordinates with all parties through UNOCHA. Now we hear voices calling for creating safe exits for people out of their country instead of finding means to protect human resources and the infrastructure which offer humanitarian services to the civilians.
The first and last elements affected by any military action in the north will be the Syrian civilians who have no power to avoid the crisis. If the UN primary estimations start with 700.000 enforced displacements, the numbers will hugely increase if violence escalates in northwest Syria. Numbers of IDPs will double, add to that, new huge burdens will be imposed on neighboring and hosting countries and humanitarian donors. If past waves of displacements were met with minor responses from humanitarian donors, the expected waves of displacement, result of any impending wide military action in Idleb, will exceed the power of any party to respond, especially that the UN responses to the last waves of displacement were very meager and sometimes null. All previous experiments in states plagued with terror proved that violence breeds harsher waves of violence and extremists will move to other safe havens to practice their terrorism instead of being eliminated. The solution in north Syria now should not be a military one, and the international community should not discuss new waves of Syrian refugees after seven years of the conflict.
We, groups of NGOs working in the humanitarian and civilian field in Syria and the neighboring countries, call for the guarantor states of the de-escalation zones agreement, as well as the other international players, to bear their responsibilities fully and to work hard to:
- Stop any plans for a military action in north Syria, solve all the suspending issues on the tables of dialogue according to the UNSC resolution and international legitimacy, and to create mechanisms of accountability of the continued violations in Syria. A truce for few weeks might be fragile and then the crisis is coming anyway.
- Protect civilians and help them stay in their homes and country as a priority, and not to accept any new forms of enforced displacement in Syria.
- Exert every possible effort to help humanitarian operations continue cross borders and to support them with the humanitarian needs for more than 3 million people living in north Syria.
- Protect humanitarian infrastructure and workers, regardless of the scenarios planned for the region, and reinforce efforts of the UN and other humanitarian actors on that.
Signatories, SNA – Syrian NGO Alliance.
1. Al Sham Humanitarian Foundation – AHF.
2. Big Heart Foundation.
3. Binaa Organization for Development.
4. Children of One World.
5. Ghiras Al Nahda.
6. Hand in Hand for Syria.
7. Ihsan for Relief and Development – IRD.
8. Masrrat - The Syrian Establishment for Human Care & Enhancement.
9. Physician Across Continents – PAC Turkey.
10. Shafak Organization.
11. Social Development International – SDI.
12. Syria Relief.
13. Syria Relief and Development – SRD.
14. Syrian American Medical Society – SAMS.
15. Syrian Expatriate Medical Association – SEMA.
16. Takaful Al Sham Charity Organization.
17. Union of Relief and Medical Care Organizations – UOSSM.
18. Violet Organization for Relief and Development.
VDSH-Verband Deutsh-Syrischer Hilfsvereine e.v.