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The Most Notable Human Rights Violations as a Result of the Conflict in Syria in October 2019

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Press release:
The SNHR released its monthly special report today, which documents the human rights situation in Syria, outlining the most notable human rights violations that the SNHR documented in October 2019 at the hands of the main perpetrator parties to the conflict in Syria.
The 19-page report outlines the record of civilian victims documented in October who were killed by the main parties to the conflict, as well as the record of cases of arrests and enforced disappearance. The report also highlights indiscriminate attacks and the use of outlawed weapons (cluster munitions, chemical weapons, barrel bombs, incendiary weapons, nail missiles) and attacks on civilian objects.

The report includes records of these violations distributed according to each of the main perpetrator parties responsible. Accurately ascribing responsibility sometimes requires more time and investigation than usual, especially in the case of joint attacks. On some occasions, when we are unable to definitively assign responsibility for specific attacks to one particular party, as in the case of air strikes by Syrian or Russian warplanes, Syrian-Iranian attacks, or attacks by Syrian Democratic Forces and International Coalition forces, we indicate that responsibility for these attacks is held jointly by the parties in question until we are able to likely establish which one of the parties was responsible, or its proved that the attack was a joint initiative carried out in coordination between the two parties. In addition, in cases where we are unable to definitively assign responsibility for a particular violation to one of two possible parties because of the areas proximity to the lines of engagement, the use of similar weapons, or other reasons, the incident is categorized among other parties until we have sufficient evidence to conclusively assign responsibility for the violation to one of the two parties.

The report draws upon the ongoing daily monitoring of news and developments, and on an extensive network of relations with various sources, in addition to analyzing a large number of photographs and videos.

The report documents in October the deaths of 171 civilians, including 28 children and 18 women (adult female), as well as two media workers, at the hands of the main perpetrator parties in Syria. It also documents the deaths of 27 individuals who died due to torture, and at least one massacre. The toll of victims mentioned above includes the civilian victims killed in the neighboring countries as a result of the conflict in Syria.

The report also documents at least 183 cases of arbitrary arrests, including six children, five women (adult female), at the hands of the main perpetrator parties to the conflict in Syria, with the largest number of these carried out by Syrian Regime forces in Damascus Suburbs governorate.

According to the report, at least 25 attacks on vital civilian facilities were recorded in October, of which six attacks were on schools, one was on a medical facility and three others were on places of worship.

The report details the record of indiscriminate and outlawed attacks documented in October, where Syrian Regime forces carried out three cluster munition attacks, targeting Idlib governorate, which resulted in the deaths of one child and one woman, and injured five civilians.

The report documents in October at least 117 barrel bombs dropped by Syrian regimes air force, fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, on Latakia governorate.

The report reveals that the evidence we gathered indicates that attacks were directed against civilians and civilian objects. Syrian-Russian alliance forces committed various crimes of extrajudicial killings, arrest, torture, and enforced disappearance. In addition, the indiscriminate attacks they carried out caused the destruction of various facilities and other buildings. There are reasonable grounds to believe that the war crime of attacking civilians has been committed in many cases.

The report stresses that the Syrian government has violated international humanitarian law and customary law, and a number of UN Security Council resolutions, particularly resolution 2139, resolution 2042 on the release of detainees, and resolution 2254, all without any accountability.

Continuing Israeli attacks in Gaza will result in more crimes against Palestinian civilians

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The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor is following with a great concern the military escalation in the Gaza Strip, which broke out on Tuesday dawn after the Israeli army assassinated a military commander in the Gaza Strip.

We Hold the Israeli government responsible for the escalation of violence and see its move to carry out attacks in the Gaza Strip as a practical expression of impunity

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Our field teams monitored the Israeli Air Forces and artillery attacks on a dozen of areas in the Gaza Strip, killing (until 3:30 PM) 23 Palestinians, including civilians, and completely destroying 3 houses, as well as damaging dozens of houses and civilian facilities.

In parallel with the military offensive, the Israeli army closed all border crossings with the Gaza Strip and imposed an almost total ban on fishing, which means depriving the civilian population of basic supplies such as food, fuel and basic needs, in continuation of Israel’s policy of collective punishment against the Gaza Strip for more than 13 years.

The Euro-Med Monitor team documented the response of armed factions in the Gaza Strip by firing dozens of home-made grenades at Israeli communities near the border as well as in cities in central Israel, injuring dozens of Israelis, with the majority of them suffering from shocks.

We hold the Israeli government responsible for the escalation of violence and see its move to carry out attacks in the Gaza Strip as a practical expression of impunity, as the IDF has enjoyed impunity however it has a record of human rights violations, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

By monitoring the situation on the ground, we warn all parties of the gravity of the situation in the Gaza Strip, and call for a decisive intervention to stop the Israeli military offensive and prevent the development of an all-out offensive that could kill thousands of civilians.

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Turkey: EU-funded programme to assist 1.7 million Syrian refugees

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Geneva/Ankara, 31 October 2019 – Around 1.7 million Syrians living in Turkey will continue to receive humanitarian support through an EU-funded partnership between the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Turkish Red Crescent Society.

Through €500 million in EU funding, IFRC will provide monthly assistance via debit cards to the most vulnerable refugees in Turkey under the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme. The ESSN is a multi-purpose cash transfer scheme that allows families to decide for themselves how to cover essential needs like rent, transport, bills, food, and medicine.

Elhadj As Sy, IFRC Secretary-General, said:

“Cash assistance is about dignity. Supporting people with cash gives them the freedom, dignity and independence to take control of their own lives and allows them to engage with and contribute to the communities that are hosting them.

“Many refugees have limited access to the formal labour market. Cash grants offer the power of choice and give people the independence to address their families essential needs.”

Through the ESSN programme, IFRC and the Turkish Red Crescent will provide families with approximately €18 (120TL) a month through prepaid cards. In addition, families will receive quarterly additional allowances based on family size, along with monthly payments to beneficiaries with disabilities.

An estimated 300 Turkish Red Crescent staff will be involved in the programme, ensuring close engagement with communities throughout its duration.

IFRCs As Sy said:

“This new partnership reflects the leading role that the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement plays in the delivery of humanitarian cash assistance.”

In 2018, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement was responsible for delivering about 25 per cent of all humanitarian cash assistance globally.

IOM seeks $54 million for migrant response in Horn of Africa, Yemen

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Nairobi – The International Organization for Migration, IOM, and its partners, released in October, an update to the Regional Migrant Response Plan for the Horn of Africa and Yemen (RMRP) 2018-2020. The updated appeal seeks to raise USD 54 million to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to an estimated 113,000 vulnerable migrants in transit or stranded in RMRP target countries of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Yemen.

The RMRP is a three-year migrant-focused humanitarian and development strategy to vulnerable migrants from the Horn of Africa moving to and from Yemen.

The RMRP appeal for 2019 also includes development-oriented durable solutions that address root causes of migration in the Horn of Africa; supports governments with capacity building activities to address the humanitarian and protection needs of migrants. It also supports research on root causes and drivers of migration in the Horn of Africa and Yemen. RMRP partners have secured 32 per cent of the funding required as of October.

Along the Eastern corridor, at least 160,000 migrants are estimated to enter Yemen from the Horn of Africa by the end of 2019, and nearly 130,000 migrants are expected to return home to the region from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the same period. Approximately 5 per cent of all migrant arrivals into Yemen tracked in the first six months of 2019 are unaccompanied or separated children. This is an increase from the 2 per cent observed during the same period in 2018.

Many migrants on the perilous journey to and through Yemen experience exploitation and abuse as they attempt to reach the Gulf Cooperation Council countries in search of economic opportunities.

“Migrants undertaking this journey do so in search of a better life for themselves and their families. These migrants are often young people – in many cases children – unaware of the dangers on the route to Yemen, including exposure to extreme heat, encountering conflict and violence, and potentially falling prey to human traffickers,” said Mohammed Abdiker, IOMs Regional Director for the East and Horn of Africa.

“Migrants on the route to Yemen are amongst some of the most vulnerable and meeting the humanitarian needs of this population must remain a priority for the international community,” he added.

The October 2019 update to the RMRP reflects updated priorities for partners in each of the target countries. These include providing life-saving humanitarian assistance to stranded migrants in Yemen, ensuring adequate protection for unaccompanied children, and scaling-up assistance to the thousands of vulnerable migrants returning from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Horn of Africa.

In all, 17 partners in the four target countries – including UN agencies and NGOs – work in coordination to provide a comprehensive humanitarian and protection response to vulnerable migrants on the eastern route to Yemen. The RMRPs target population includes children, the elderly, victims of human trafficking and gender-based violence, and other migrants with situational vulnerabilities.

RMRP partners seek to build off their achievements from 2018 in which 58,000 vulnerable migrants were provided with food, water, and temporary shelter in the four target countries. An additional 15,000 vulnerable migrants were provided with transportation assistance to voluntarily return home, and 14 community development projects were completed in areas of high returns. The 2018 RMRP required USD 46 million in funding, of which 44 per cent was secured.

Thomson Reuters World-Check slammed as Islamophobic, Misleading and Unreliable  

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Shaun Cunninghame – An investigative documentary by Aljazeera TV Network described Thomson Reuters World-Check as misleading and deliberately Islamophobic. The renowned documentary exposed how the Thomson Reuters World-Check London based company destroyed the lives of innocent civilians who were banned from travel and had their bank accounts closed.

The 52-mintue long documentary, “The Hidden is More Immense” revealed how the World-Check product – part of Thomson Reuters Company – has sourced a database of millions of names of Journalists, politics, political activists and member of the public and labelled them as “Terrorists”, “Convicted Terrorists” or involved in financial crimes, money laundering and terrorism. It also added that many charities, NGOs and even mosques have had their bank accounts closed due to being falsely labelled as “terrorists”

The documentary presented by investigative Journalist Tamer Misshal traced how World-Check built its database which turned to be on unreliable and inaccurate sources as fake blogs, unknown websites (with no ownership declared). Additionally, the documentary revealed that many of the sources used are often sent by repressive governments in the Middle East such as Israel, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and other countries. In some cases, some of sources are published by intelligence agencies and semi government agencies.

The documentary interviewed two Law offices in London and Brussels which confirmed that World-Check service is relying on “basic search on google” to source information against individuals.

Thomson Reuters World-Check has already lost several lawsuits in London and expected to concede in some ongoing cases.

Meanwhile, World-Check claims to help protect businesses from financial crime and “reduce risk by fulfilling your KYC due diligence screening obligations with accurate and structured information. World-Check Risk Intelligence is used and trusted by the worlds biggest companies” It also state on its website that it is an Intelligence database which delivers accurate and reliable information to help entities such as banks, financial and other institutions make informed decisions.

It also claims to have “hundreds of specialist researchers and analysts across the globe, adhering to the most stringent research guidelines as they collate information from reliable and reputable sources – such as watch lists, government records, and media searches.”

Contrary to the literature and objective of World-Check the Aljazeera Documentary raises the alarm of integrity and ethics on how this service operates. For example, journalists interviewed in the documentary argued clearly that the World-Check staff dont spend more than two minutes on reviewing or updating profiles of names included.

Pathetic, this contradiction has been apparent in 2017 where World Check confessed that its staff were incompetent and disqualified as elaborated by Tom Keatinge who argued, “According to the Particulars of Claim between Finsbury Park Mosque and World-Check owner Thomson Reuters, the information provided by World-Check to banks consists of “continually updated intelligence” providing an “early warning system for hidden risk”. Yet, it is claimed, the profile reports are compiled by “unqualified staff on the basis of open source data, in particular by means of Google searches”. Furthermore, “the profile reports are not subject to independent checks” and those that are the subject of these compiled profiles are not given an opportunity to check or correct these reports.”

Closure of detention centre exposes migrants and refugees to even worse conditions

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  • Following the closing of a detention centre in Misrata, refugees and migrants have been moved to other facilities in Libya
  • They are being exposed to increasingly inhumane and dangerous detention conditions.
  • More life-saving evacuations outside Libya are needed, as are alternatives to detention. Without such measures, vulnerable people will continue to be condemned to endless detention and exposed to major threats and suffering.

On 14 October, Libyan authorities closed the Karareem detention centre in Misrata, in the central coastal region of Libya, and transferred more than a hundred refugees and migrants arbitrarily detained in this facility to two other detention centres in the same region, Zliten and Souq Al Khamees.

The conditions of detention in these two centres are known by Libyan authorities and UNHCR to be extremely bad, as reported by MSF teams on several occasions.

“Closing one detention centre would be a positive step if refugees and migrants were provided freedom of movement, protection and assistance.” – Sacha Petiot, MSF Head of Mission in Libya.

Men, women and children arbitrarily detained for months and, in many cases, years, with little access to food, water and open air, will be exposed to the same inhumane conditions. Some of them suffered torture and trafficking during their stay in the country.

“Closing one detention centre would be a positive step if refugees and migrants were provided freedom of movement, protection and assistance,” says Sacha Petiot, MSF head of mission in Libya. .

“But here, they are moved from one detention centre to another, seeing their conditions go from bad to worse and stuck in an endless cycle of despair and violence. At the bare minimum, they should have been released and taken care of in a safer environment.” says Sacha Petiot, MSF head of mission in Libya.

The armed conflict that started in April around Tripoli has made the situation more dangerous for the refugees and migrants detained in the areas where clashes occur. In this grim context, the tragic death of an estimated 60 people during an airstrike on Tajoura detention centre late at night on 2 July prompted renewed calls for the closure of Libyas detention centres, including by Libyan authorities themselves.

There are currently no safe locations in Libya where refugees and migrants can find protection and assistance. The only UNHCR-managed facility, the Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) in Tripoli, is now saturated and UNHCR has claimed that it cannot accommodate more vulnerable people.

“We need more life-saving evacuations outside Libya. And it is urgent to develop an alternative to detention, such as setting up shelters to provide immediate, temporary protection in Libya. Otherwise, the most vulnerable refugees and migrants are condemned to endless detention and exposed to major threats and suffering,” says Petiot.

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New refugees arrive to Iraq in a week of violence in northeast Syria

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This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

For the fourth consecutive day, UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, has been receiving hundreds of refugees crossing the border into Iraq from northeast Syria. Refugees mainly come from towns in northern Syria – Kobani, Amoda and Qamishly and surrounding villages.

As of this morning, over 1,600 Syrian refugees have been transported from the border areas to Bardarash refugee camp, some 150 kilometres east of Syria-Iraq border. The site has been prepped to receive the latest arrivals fleeing the fighting in northern Syria.

Newly arrived refugees told our staff that it took them days to get to the border as they fled amid shelling and fighting. Most of the new arrivals are women, children and elderly. Their general physical condition appears to be good, but some required psychosocial support.

In support of the response led by local authorities, our teams and those of other aid agencies and partners have been working round the clock to transport refugees to the Bardarash camp and meet their immediate needs. Family tents are being pitched to provide shelter, water and sanitation systems have been put in place together with other basic facilities.

Upon arrival refugees are given hot meals, water, basic aid items including mattresses, blankets, kitchen sets, jerrycans and other items. Medical teams with ambulances and a mobile medical unit are present to provide medical assistance if needed. Our teams are working with partners to provide services needed including pyscho-social support and protection services. The refugees are registered using biometric iris-scanning and their specific needs are assessed to determine what kind of assistance they may require.

Meanwhile in Syria, after a week of violence in countrys northeast, we and our partners have been able so far to provide life-saving assistance to nearly 60,000 newly displaced Syrians as well as to those forced to flee from one camp to another. Nearly 23,000 people have received core relief and winter items in the camps. UNHCR also provided same assistance to another 35,700 living in collective shelters and host communities.

The UN currently estimates some 166,000 people have been forced to flee their homes over the past seven days. Newly displaced families continue to seek shelter in camps, makeshift sites, communal shelters, with family, friends or acquaintances. Many of them have been displaced multiple times from one area to another in Al-Hassakeh, Tal Tamer and Raqqa.

Where possible, UNHCR teams conduct protection assessments and our response continues. Our protection partners identify those in need of specialized care and attention every day.

Violence has wreaked chaos among civilians, hitting the most vulnerable hardest. Our teams reported story of a child, a 13 year-old boy from Ras-Al-Ain, who ran for his life amid intense fighting and got separated from his parents. He followed the crowds and reached one of the communal shelters in Al-Hassakeh where UNHCR outreach volunteers tirelessly went through communal shelters until they were able to reunite the boy with his family.

Turkeys Syria offensive could spark another catastrophe, warn humanitarians

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Airstrikes and a ground offensive by Turkey in northern Syria against Kurdish forces have left civilians dead and forced tens of thousands to flee, UN agencies said on Friday, amid fears of another “humanitarian catastrophe” in the war-torn country.

Expressing concern about the military campaign launched on Wednesday, the UNs emergency relief chief Mark Lowcock noted that the Turkish Government had “assured me that they attach maximum importance to the protection of civilians and the avoidance of harm to them”.

Speaking to journalists in Geneva, Jens Laerke from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said that Thursday had seen “intense shelling all along the north-eastern Syrian border with Turkey, from Jarablus, to the west of the Euphrates, to the Iraqi border”.

Highlighting the potential for further suffering for Syrians caught up in more than eight years of war, Christian Cardon de Lichtbuer, from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said that “we have there all the ingredients for unfortunately yet another humanitarian crisis in Syria”.

UN human rights office confirms eight civilian deaths

As of Thursday evening, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, reported that seven civilians, including two women and a boy, had been killed in the first two days of the Turkish operation.

A male civilian man was also reported killed in Jarablus on Wednesday, OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville said, adding that a woman and a boy were injured yesterday, during “counter-attacks and ground strikes” by Kurdish non-State armed groups.

In response to the mass displacement of people from the northern border area, mainly to Al-Hasakeh district, the World Food Programme (WFP) has provided ready-to-eat meals to around 11,000 people there, with the help of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC).

WFP supports close to 650,000 people in north-eastern Syria via a field hub in Qamishli; around 580,000 are currently in areas under Kurdish control, it said in a statement.

“Mass population displacement has been reported since the escalation of violence”, said WFP spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel. “Over 70,000 people from Ras al-Ain and Tal Abiad have been displaced so far.”

Save the Children scales up Syrian operations, warns of mass displacement of children

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Save the Children warned today against an impending humanitarian disaster in North East Syria, where families and children have already started fleeing hostilities. The agency confirmed it was preparing to scale up its relief operations which have been continuous since 2014.

Save the Children said: “We are deeply concerned about the safety of thousands of children and their families who have been on the move overnight. Our priority is to ensure that the best interests of children are met, and that essential support is provided to them. Our teams are still present in the area and delivering our programmes, and we are preparing to scale up to meet the increased needs.”

Our teams in North East Syria reported hearing explosions throughout the night.

“While the hostilities were largely localised to border areas, I saw families moving from major towns heading towards the outskirts further outside the border areas. People are afraid and cannot predict the extent of the military operations,” Jiwan, a Save the Children staff in the North East said.

“The cities and towns where we are are quiet this morning, but there is an air of anticipation in the community as people are unsure about what will happen next. We are hoping, for ourselves and the children, that the conflict will not extend to other major towns,” he added.

“The reports of civilian deaths, including those of two children, and several more injured are devastating. North East Syria is home to people who are all too familiar with the horrors of war. Many have been displaced more than once already. How many times have we seen those scenes of women and children with their belongings bundled on their backs moving in search of safety? With winter around the corner, they will face additional challenges as they search for shelter. Families who are worried about their lives. They cannot think of anything else but getting their children to safety,” added Save the Children.

In addition to the Syrian civilians in the North East, there are thousands of women and children living in camps across the area. Three of the camps are home to Syrian, Iraqi families and more than 9,000 foreign children with perceived links to ISIS of more than 40 nationalities, who rely exclusively on humanitarian aid. So far, camps continue to operate. But any disruption to aid services is placing the lives of nearly 90,000 residents across the three camps at risk.

Save the Children had called on Monday on all parties to ensure that all children and their families across North East Syria are protected.

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