On 24 March, the Special Representative of the Syrian National Coalition to the United Nations, Dr. Najib Ghadbian, delivered the SNC's thirteenth letter to the Security Council on compliance to UNSC resolutions 2139 (2013), 2165 (2014) and 2191 (2014).
The letter outlines the comprehensive and decisive action the Security Council must take to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people, prevent future atrocities, and lay the basis for a political transition to peace and democracy by:
Enforcing UN Security Council resolutions 2118 (2013) and 2209 (2015) and authorizing a no-fly zone over parts of Syria: Syrian regime forces continue to use chemical weapons on civilians by dropping barrel bombs filled with toxic chlorine gas in residential areas.
Referring the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC)
Enforcing the mandate of UN Security Council resolutions 2165 (2014) and 2191 (2014): The situation in Syria's besieged areas is horrific and deteriorating. At least 640,200 people are living under siege, according to a new report by the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS).
- Increasing humanitarian commitments to the Syrian people
See a full copy of the letter below or download a copy here.
24 March 2015
On behalf of the people of Syria and the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, it is my grave responsibility to draw to your attention the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria and the ongoing abuses perpetrated by Syrian regime forces and extremist terrorist groups, in direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions 2118 (2013), 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2191 (2014) and 2209 (2015). The systematic perpetration of atrocities against Syrian civilians cannot be allowed to continue with impunity. Decisive action, including the imposition of a no-fly zone, must be undertaken by UN Security Council members to relieve the suffering of Syrian civilians and deter future atrocities.
March marked yet another deadly month for the Syrian people. As outlined in Annex I, by March 24th, 1,288 Syrians had been killed—1,045 of them civilians. Of these, 265 civilians were killed as a result of aerial assaults conducted by Syrian regime air forces. Less than two weeks after the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2209 (2015), Syrian regime forces also deployed chemical weapons to injure, kill and terrorize civilians. On 16 March, six civilians were killed—three of them children—when Syrian regime helicopters dropped the chemical agent chlorine gas on the Syrian village of Sarmin in Idlib governorate.
In the month of March, Assad continued to use aerial attacks to besiege opposition-held areas and starve civilians into submission. At present, the UN states that 212,000 Syrians are living under siege—185,000 of whom are besieged by Syrian armed forces and their affiliated militias. We believe these figures are grossly underestimated. According to the Syrian American Medical Society, a total of 640,200 people reside in besieged areas, the vast majority of whom are trapped by Syrian regime forces.
Life for Syrians in besieged areas is horrific. Syrians trapped behind regime lines suffer from chronic malnutrition, starvation, dehydration, communicable diseases and chronic conditions which, when left untreated, can turn deadly. They are systematically denied essential items like food, water, medicine, electricity and fuel, as a result of which many are forced to forage for tree leaves and wild plants in urban areas. Because Syrian regime forces target medical workers and deny the passage of medical relief items, medical professionals and urgently needed medicine are often absent. The few medical professionals who remain in besieged areas report having to reuse blood bags, while a lack of electricity makes the safe storage of blood plasma impossible and a lack of anesthetics means surgeries are often performed without anesthesia.
The war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by Syrian regime forces are conducted as part of a state policy that has resulted in the deaths of over 220,000 Syrians, the forcible displacement of 11.5 million people, and the rise of violent extremist groups like ISIL, which torture, rape and terrorise with impunity. Regime policy also violates international humanitarian and international human rights law, including the fourth Geneva Convention, to which Syria is a party, as well as Security Council resolutions 2118 (2013), 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2191 (2014) and 2209 (2015). These resolutions can and must be enforced.
Comprehensive action undertaken by the Security Council can immediately relieve the suffering of Syrians, prevent future atrocities, and lay the basis for a political transition to peace and democracy. To do so, members of the Security Council must act without delay to:
Enforce UN Security Council resolutions 2118 (2013) and 2209 (2015) and authorize a no-fly zone over parts of Syria: Aerial bombardment remains the Syrian regime’s primary weapon of choice, allowing Assad’s air forces to strike civilians indiscriminately and with impunity. A no-fly zone would put an immediate halt to such suffering, reducing the rate of the death toll by as much as 30 percent. It would create the conditions needed to establish a Safe zone throughout parts of Syria, and enable Syria’s displaced people to begin the process of return. A no-fly zone is not a panacea. But if successful, it would provide a way to begin to get a grip of the situation on the ground and create the conditions needed for responsible governance and the return of basic services. The Security Council has repeatedly pledged to employ Chapter VII measures in instances of noncompliance with resolution 2118 (2013), it is vital that it took such action now;
Refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC): The Syrian regime and extremist terrorist groups have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. The victims of those crimes deserve justice. An ICC referral would not only put an end to impunity, it would deter further atrocities by establishing clear consequences for deadly actions and a vehicle for accountability;
Enforce the mandate of UN Security Council resolutions 2165 (2014) and 2191 (2014): Despite the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 2191 (2014) and 2165 (2014), 640,200 Syrians remain trapped in besieged areas and millions more remain trapped across conflict lines. Members of the Security Council should demand the full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions 2191 (2014), 2165 (2014) and 2139 (2014) and call on UN agencies to upscale their assistance across Syria’s border with Turkey and Jordan
- Increase humanitarian commitments to the Syrian people: On 31 March, the Third International Pledging Conference for Syria will take place in Kuwait city. We ask that members of the Security Council increase their commitments at this year’s pledging conference to ensure that the UN meets its goal of raising US$8.4 billion to help the people of Syria. Doing so will help save lives.
Your Excellency, by employing the comprehensive action proposed above, the Security Council can begin to end the slaughter in large parts of Syria, and lay the foundation needed for a political solution to the crisis. The Syrian National Coalition continues to believe that a political solution is the only way to create a lasting peace in Syria. But before such a solution can be reached, we must employ all measures possible to stop the violence and stem the death toll. With every day we wait, more Syrians will suffer and more civilians will die. Through your actions and moral courage, members of the Security Council can stop the suffering in Syria today. On behalf of my people, I appeal to you to do so.
Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.