Protecting civilians in armed conflict
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Northwest Syria: current military operations in Afrin put 323,000 people at risk

1st February 2018 | Syria - Humanitarian norms

afrin

On 20 January 2017, fighting between the Turkish army, supported by several Syrian armed non-State actors (ANSAs), and the Kurdish People’s Defences Forces (YPG/YPJ) broke out in Afrin, a region of Northwest Syria. Several of the armed actors involved in these hostilities are signatories to one or more of Geneva Call’s Deeds of Commitment including the YPG/YPJ and several brigades of the Free Syrian Army.

Geneva Call urges all parties to this conflict to respect humanitarian norms, reduce the impact of hostilities on civilians, and allow access for impartial humanitarian aid. “We also remind signatories to the Deeds of Commitment of their obligations and we will keep holding them accountable for the respect of these commitments,” added Hichem Khadhraoui, Geneva Call’s Director of Operations.

The humanitarian situation in the area was already delicate before the start of these hostilities: according the United Nations, more than 323,000 people live in this region of Syria, among them 192,000 are already classified as people in need, and 125,000 are displaced people from other areas of Syria. This new development in the conflict puts the region and its population at further risk of mass displacement, violations on civilians, and destruction of public infrastructures, such as schools and hospitals.

Geneva Call will follow up on the Deed of Commitment implementation plans adopted by each signatory ANSA active in this conflict and maintain its solid humanitarian dialogue with them. In addition, it will reactivate its video campaign on social media to promote the laws of war in the area.

In Syria, Geneva Call has been developing and maintaining a humanitarian dialogue on the protection of civilians with 11 ANSAs, of which nine have signed one or more Deeds of Commitment.

The Deed of Commitment is a formal humanitarian declaration that ANSAs sign to ensure respect for humanitarian norms. The signature of this commitment does not give any political or legal recognition to these actors. Geneva Call adheres to the principles of neutrality and impartiality in its work and strictly limits itself to increasing compliance with humanitarian norms by ANSAs in order to ensure greater protection of the civilian population.