By Usama Faiz*
The Syrian government, led by President Bashar ul Assad, faced a grave challenge in 2011, when the people rose against the authoritarian rule and massive protests culminated into a full-fledged civil war across the country. The protests were directed against the oppressive rule that was prevailing since 1971 when Assad’s father; Hafiz ul Assad came to power. As the protests gained strength, the government responded with force. This was the time when a fraction of the protesters started to pick arms, and it resulted in a large scale humanitarian crisis.
Amid the international divisions of the global powers for maximizing their own agendas and influence, efforts were made to put an end to the escalating violence but all in vain. With all kinds of brutal force being deployed by the government, the rebels and their respective supporters, the humanitarian crisis unfolded in an uglier form that still haunts the Syrians. The years’ long war has significantly impacted the country’s socio-economic and political sectors. The government, under the garb of rules and principles, restricted the flow of humanitarian organizations to access the areas that needed aid. According to reports from different Human Rights groups, war crimes like siege of the civilian areas, restricting the humanitarian aid, torture, sexual violence, unlawful killings and most importantly the use of chemical weapons, have been committed by all the warring parties. With the pandemic, and such acts, there is a grave concern for the human rights abuses. Not only this, the Human Needs Approach is disregarded completely that can culminate in another crisis if the situation remains unchanged.
On March 24, 2021, The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights adopted resolution 46/22 on the situation in Syria. According to the High Commissioner, a total of 350,209 people have been killed and 11.5 million have been displaced from March 2011 to March 2021. These figures highlight the dwindling situation in Syria that has led the innocent civilians to face the brunt of the conflict which has disregarded the laws and obligations under international law. Moreover, the conflict still lingers on with the Idlib region still under the armed group. This will keep reminding the world that the conflict is a ticking bomb and can escalate at any moment.
There is a dire need to condemn the violence and abuses in letter and spirit. It is the legal and moral obligation of the Syrian government to make for the safety of its citizens, to provide them with economic, health, psychological and rehabilitation needs under the Geneva Convention 1949. The perpetrators, responsible for committing all forms of war crimes, should be held accountable. The world must stand with the Syrian people in their call for peace and stability. It should not turn a blind eye to the crisis that has led to instability and uncertainty in the region.
*The writer is a graduate of Strategic Studies from National Defence University. He can be reached at [email protected]