Rapporteurs call on all conflict parties to put an end to the humanitarian tragedy in Syria

Two rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) have reacted strongly to the humanitarian tragedy unfolding in Syria’s Eastern Goutha, on the day the UN Security Council meets to discuss the situation.

“The extreme suffering of children in Syria leaves us all without words,” said Sevinj Fataliyeva (Azerbaijan, EC), PACE rapporteur on protecting children affected by armed conflicts, echoing a blank statement published by UNICEF on 20 February after the attack on civilians in Eastern Goutha, to express that the agency charged with protecting children had no more words left to describe the horror taking place in the country. At least 250 civilians have been killed since the escalation of the conflict on 18 February, amongst which are 58 children, as reported by human rights observatories.

Ms Fataliyeva, who two years ago drew attention to the dramatic situation of children in Aleppo, once again reminded Council of Europe member States of their responsibility: “No European state can claim not to be concerned by conflicts like the one in Syria, be it as a member of an international organisation, as a party to the conflict, as an economic partner of parties to the conflict, or as a country welcoming refugees. For the sake of the children, who are affected by armed conflicts in multiple ways, European states should insist that the parties to the conflict uphold their international commitments.”

For her part, Dora Bakoyannis (Greece, EPP/CD), PACE rapporteur on the situation in Syria and its effects on surrounding countries, added: “The appalling situation in Syria is a tragedy for humanity as a whole, for Syrian children are our children. Fighting and retaliatory shelling from all parties are severely impacting civilians in Eastern Ghouta, causing scores of deaths and injuries, and people in need in many areas of the country have not been reached since late November 2017. These atrocities must outrage us all and bringing them to an end must become our ultimate priority.”

Both rapporteurs concluded: “We call for the respect of the basic principles of international humanitarian law: unhindered humanitarian access, unconditional medical evacuations and the protection of civilians and civil infrastructure, in particular children as the most vulnerable group. In line with the latest UN resolutions, we urge all parties to immediately cease hostilities and return to the negotiating table to work relentlessly on the country's political transition.”