One Civil Defense Worker Documented Killed, and 11 Attacks on Vital Medical, Civil Defense facilities in December
SNHR has released its monthly special report that documents violations against medical, Civil Defense, and Red Crescent personnel, and their respective facilities by the parties to the conflict in Syria, which documented the death of 91 medical, Civil Defense, and Red Crescent personnel in Syria, and 198 attacks against their respective facilities in 2018.
The report stresses that saving the wounded is now widely perceived in Syria as a dangerous profession that might lead to death, in light of the blatant violations of international humanitarian law that affect medical personnel and facilities.
According to the report, the Syrian regime was once again responsible for perpetrating the majority of crimes against medical personnel and facilities, with regime forces carrying out raids on hospitals and abducting wounded people undergoing treatment, as well as targeting hospitals and other medical facilities using shells, missiles, and barrel bombs. Regime air and ground forces have also bombed civil defense facilities and international humanitarian insignia repeatedly, killing many of their personnel.
The report notes that while the other parties to the conflict have also perpetrated similar violations, this has been to a lesser extent and in smaller numbers than the regime. ISIS members raided makeshift hospitals and dispensaries and abducted some of the wounded, doctors, and paramedics. Also, ISIS barred some doctors from practicing under their proscriptive, discriminatory laws. Meanwhile, Coalition forces (international coalition and SDF) have targeted a number of hospitals and other medical facilities.
The report adds that violations against medical and civil defense personnel affect not only those individuals, but also have a devastating effect on the lives of people in need of the medical care services, treatment, and rescue services they provide. Consequently, these violations result in the deaths of many more of the wounded and those trapped under the rubble of buildings destroyed in bombing.
Fadel Abdul Ghany, chairman of SNHR, says:
“Attacks on medical and civil defense centers as well as medical and civil defense personnel, are considered a blatant violation of international humanitarian law and constitute war crimes given the indiscriminate, and in many cases, deliberate, targeting of protected objects. All of this has only deepened the suffering of the wounded and injured and is one of the main reasons behind the displacement of the Syrian people as it sends a very clear message: there is no safe area, or red line, including hospitals – you either flee or perish.”
According to the report, December saw the death of one Civil Defense rescue worker. As was the case in the preceding months, the second half of 2018 saw the lowest death toll amongst medical, Civil Defense, and Red Crescent personnel since the outbreak of the popular uprising for democracy in Syria in March 2011.
The report notes that the first third of 2018 was the most dangerous period documented during this year for medical and Civil Defense personnel, and their related facilities, due to the sharp escalation in military operations by Syrian-Russian forces on the three de-escalation zones (specific areas in the north of Homs governorate, parts of Daraa and Quneitra governorates, and the Eastern Ghouta in Damascus Suburbs governorate) which resulted in agreements according to which those areas’ residents were forcibly displaced. As a result of these factors, the first third of the year saw acts of killing against workers in the health sector which accounted for 68 percent of the total death toll amongst individuals in this category in 2018, and 66 percent of the record of attacks on medical and rescue facilities. The last eight months of the year saw an increase in the frequency of bombings around medical facilities and Civil Defense facilities – mostly in the north of Syria – in addition to kidnappings of medical personnel in light of the security chaos in those areas.
The report adds that the Syrian-Russian alliance is by far the primary culprit, ahead of any other parties, in terms of violations committed against the health sector last year, being responsible for the death of 74 percent of the death toll among health sector workers, and perpetrating 81 percent of the total attacks documented on vital facilities in the same sector.
The report records that 91 medical, civil defense, and Red Crescent personnel were killed in 2018 at the hands of the main parties to the conflict in Syria, with 54 of this number killed by Syrian Regime forces. Another 13 are believed to have been killed by Russian forces, two by ISIS and two at the hands of the Kurdish Self-Management forces, while four were killed at the hands of International Coalition forces, and 16 at the hands of other parties.
The report details the victims in 2018, with Syrian Regime forces killing two doctors and 11 nurses, four of whom were women, as well as six paramedics, 20 Civil Defense personnel, one Red Crescent personnel and 14 medical personnel, including one woman. Meanwhile, Russian forces killed three doctors, including one woman, as well as one paramedic, eight Civil Defense personnel and one woman from the medical personnel.
According to the report, ISIS killed two doctors, including one woman. The Self-Management forces killed one pharmacist and one Civil Defense rescue worker. International Coalition forces killed three nurses, including one woman, and one paramedic. Other parties killed three doctors, including one woman, one nurse, one paramedic, one pharmacist, eight Civil Defense personnel and two medical personnel.
The report also documents 198 attacks on vital medical, Civil Defense, and Red Crescent facilities in 2018. Of these, 105 attacks were perpetrated by Syrian Regime forces including 60 on medical facilities, three on ambulances, 37 on Civil Defense centers, and five on Red Crescent centers.
According to the report, Russian forces perpetrated 56 attacks in this category in 2018, 25 of which were on medical facilities, 14 on ambulances, and 17 on Civil Defense centers. Self-Management forces perpetrated two attacks on medical facilities, while International Coalition forces carried out five attacks on medical facilities. Others parties carried out 30 attacks, 16 on medical facilities, seven on ambulances, three on Civil Defense centers, and four on Red Crescent centers.
The report, also provides the death toll of December, with one Civil Defense rescue worker documented killed at the hands of other parties.
The report documents 11 attacks in December on vital medical centers, Civil Defense centers and Red Crescent centers, seven of which were at the hands of the Syrian Regime forces, and all of which targeted Civil Defense centers and vehicles, Other parties perpetrated four attacks, two of which were on ambulances and two on medical facilities.
The report stresses that the attacks constitute grave violations of Security Council resolutions 2139 and 2254 which state that indiscriminate attacks must be ceased. Also, the crime of willful killing constitutes a violation of Articles 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute, meaning that these attacks qualify as war crimes
The report adds that the attacks documented in this report constitute violations of Security Council resolution 2286 which states that attacks and threats against the wounded and sick, medical personnel and humanitarian personnel exclusively engaged in medical duties, their means of transport and equipment should be ceased, along with all attacks on hospitals and other medical facilities.
The report calls on the Security Council to take additional steps following its adoption of resolutions 2139 and 2254. Also, the report stresses that the Syrian case should be referred to the International Criminal Court and all those who were involved should be held accountable, including the Russian regime whose involvement in war crimes has been repeatedly proven.
In addition, the report calls for the implementation of the “Responsibility to Protect (R2P)” norm, especially after all political channels have been exhausted and proven fruitless despite all the agreements, as well as Cessation of Hostilities statements and Astana agreements. The report stresses that action should be taken under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, and that the “Responsibility to Protect” norm, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly, should be implemented.
The report calls on the European Union and the United States of America to support the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism that was established in accordance with General Assembly Resolution 71/248, adopted on December 21, 2016, and to establish local tribunals that enjoy universal jurisdiction, and address the war crimes perpetrated in Syria.
Also, the report calls on the Commission of Inquiry (COI) and the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) to launch investigations into the incidents included in this report and previous reports. The report stresses that the SNHR is willing to cooperate and provide more evidences and data.
Furthermore, the report calls on the Syrian regime to stop treating the Syrian state as a private family property, end its terrorization of the Syrian people through killing the teams that provide medical, aid and rescue services, as well as to cease bombing hospitals, protected objects, and civilian areas, to respect the customary humanitarian law, and, lastly, to assume full responsibility for all the legal and material repercussions, and to fully compensate victims and their families from the Syrian state’s resources.
Additionally, the report calls on the Russian regime and international coalition forces to launch investigations into the incidents included in the report, to make the findings of these investigations public to the Syrian people, and hold all who were involved accountable.
Further, the report calls on the states supporting the SDF to apply pressure on these forces in order to compel them to cease all of their violations in all the areas and towns that are under their control, and to cease all forms of support, including weapons.
Lastly, the report calls on the armed opposition factions to ensure the protection of civilians in all areas under their control and to launch investigations into the attacks that have resulted in civilian deaths. The report also stresses that armed opposition factions should distinguish between military and civilian targets and abstain from any indiscriminate attacks.