12 February 2016

Several thousand prisoners have been executed, beaten to death or left to die during Syria’s civil war, in policies that appear to amount to “extermination” under international law, United Nations investigators revealed in a new report this week. They accuse President Bashar al-Assad’s regime of crimes against humanity.

The paper, ‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Deaths in Detention’ examines detainees who were killed between March 2011 and November 2015. It denounces the practices carried out by Syrian high-ranking civilians and military officials in prisons and detention centres. The report is the result of 621 interviews with survivors and witnesses, as well as considerable documentary material. The report calls for the cessation of these practices as well as asking the Security Council to impose targeted sanctions on Syrian officials responsible for these human rights violations. Reportedly the President Bashar al-Asad has not reacted yet to the report. The Syrian army however, is not the only perpetrator of these atrocities: jihadi groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS have been and keep carrying out the same type of crime against humanity.

Syrian refugee women exposed and unprotected – Amnesty

The situation of ongoing and uncontrolled violence in Syria forces millions of people to flee to neighbouring countries. However, their safety remains a challenge in the countries of asylum, especially for the most vulnerable, such as women and girls. Amnesty International has published a report highlighting the risks to which women refugee are exposed while seeking asylum. The report ‘I want a safe place’ examines lives of Syrian refugee women in Lebanon, which is overburdened and has the highest number of refugees per capita in the world.  The inability of women to obtain regular residence permits and regular access to the labour market exposes them to a heightened risk of exploitation, eviction, detention and sexual harassment. Furthermore, their state of legal vulnerability and the widespread discrimination towards refugees, discourage them from reporting these violations to the authorities. The report highlights the responsibility of the country in failing to protect women and vulnerable refugees and calls the international community, in particular wealthy countries, to increase resettlement places, particularly for women and girls.

Most Syrian refugee still hope to go back home soon – Danish Refugee Council

A survey, conducted by the Danish Refugee Council among Syrian refugees in neighbouring Syrian countries, highlighted that the vast majority of Syrians reluctantly left Syria, and continue to hope that they will be able to return once the country becomes safe again. “Going to Europe: a Syrian perspective” is the result of over 50 focus group discussions and interviews with over 440 households in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan in 2015. The report found that initially Syrians move to neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan or Turkey as they are perceived to be similar to Syria. However, once there, they encounter many difficulties such as access the labour market, health, education and safe housing. According to the groups interviewed, it is only when life in other Middle East countries becomes intolerable that refugees decide to move on to Europe. Usually the decision to move on to Europe is a difficult one; most Syrians feel uncomfortable about moving to countries that are so different and knowing the trip could be deadly. However, the struggle is such that they decide to take that risk, convinced that, once on the other side, their rights will be respected, their children will be able to go to school and they will finally be able to plan a dignified future. The report also highlights the importance of social networks in planning their journey.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 12 February 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.