The tenth anniversary of the outbreak of the uprising and the popular movement in Syria this year is associated with the third anniversary of the Turkish occupation of the Syrian region of Afrin, in which the occupation was as basis to undermine the chances of achieving the goals and purposes for which the Syrian people uprised a decade ago.
Turkey through its army and mercenary factions, has been practicing aggressive policies and plans against the indigenous people of Afrin for three years, after the displacement of more than 80% of its population, the systematic Turkification of the region, the distortion of its identity, the disruption of its demographic composition and its isolation from its Syrian surroundings, in addition to the expansion of daily violations and illegal sabotaged activities in occupied lands of Afrin.
During three years ago, Turkey allowed to the mercenary factions to abuse and practice the most horrific violations against the original Kurdish population in Afrin, confiscate their properties and restrict them by placing extremist factions that obey their orders and implement Turkey’s expansion plans in the Syrian territories.
Despite the documented reports issued by UN agencies and human rights organizations that documented what was happening in the Afrin region in terms of ethnic cleansing and its transformation into an incubated environment for extremism and terrorism, the international community remained unable to make a decision that consistent with the United Nations charter and international resolutions calling for the preservation of human dignity and respect for state sovereignty.
We are as members of the Syrian Democratic Council, affirm in this regard that Turkey’s justifications in the excuse of preserving its national security in the region will not be achieved through its repeated flagrant violations of its obligations in international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, but rather by its full commitment as an occupying power, and its expression of its serious political will towards the real peace in the region.
We call on the United Nations and the International Security Council to adopt the position of the European Parliament and to acknowledge that the Turkish presence in northern Syria is an occupation that must be ended and restore the situation to before the occupation of Afrin in 2018 and to oblige the Turkish state to retreat from its hostile attitudes towards the Kurdish people and to be obligated to implement in accordance with Article 25 of the charter of the United Nations.
We also call on the Secretary-General of the United Nations to form an independent international investigation committee to investigate the crimes committed and still are committed by Turkey and its mercenary factions in the Afrin region, uncover the fate of more than seven thousand forcibly disappeared civilians, work on the safe return of its original inhabitants and compensate them, remove all aspects of occupation.
And based on our belief in the unity of the Syrian territories and our total commitment to preserve the country’s unity and liberate it from all forms of occupations, we call on all the Syrian parties to unite their forces to expel all occupiers, especially Turkey, which has undermined efforts to solve the Syrian crisis and exploited the plight of the Syrians to turn them into mercenaries and soldiers on demand in the service of its expansionist interests in the region.
We seek to be our call as a beginning for the best solution to settle the crisis and end the tragedy of the Syrian people, which is through the solidarity of all Syrians and the focus on the common factors and the unity of destiny without discrimination or alignment, and through the actual implementation of the comprehensive Security Council Resolution 2254 and saving the country from tyranny and divisions.
March 18, 2021
Syrian Democratic Council
Geneva, 4 March 2021 –The daily suffering of Syrians is worse now than it has been at nearly any point throughout the decade-long conflict that has ravaged the country. This is the sobering message delivered today by three senior Red Cross and Red Crescent officials as Syria enters the second decade of a relentless crisis.
Khaled Hboubati, the President of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, said:
“Continuing hostilities, a downward economic spiral, a refugee crisis that has reverberated around the world and the COVID-19 pandemic have conspired to push Syrian people to unacceptable extremes. For a decade now, people in Syria have been living in agony. As we speak, more than 13 million people need at least one type of assistance and about 8 million people are unable to respond to their basic needs.”
With the price of basic commodities more than doubling in the last year alone, food insecurity has worsened for the Syrian people. Around 12.4 million people – 60 per cent of the Syrian population – do not have regular access to enough safe and nutritious food, and more than 90 per cent of the population is estimated to live under the poverty line.
Speaking ahead of his visit to Syria, Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said:
“The people of Syria cannot afford to endure another year like this, let alone another ten. We need a political solution to end the conflict, ongoing financial support for the recovery – and a future for those who have lost so much.”
The immense humanitarian needs across Syria have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, said Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC):
“For most Syrians, worrying about the virus is a luxury they cannot afford. They cannot afford to protect themselves. They cannot isolate themselves at home or else no food would be on the table. And even if they do get contaminated by the virus, the health system has been battered so severely that access to treatment and care is limited.”
The Syrian Arab Red Crescent have been responding to the needs of people in Syria since the first days of the conflict. With the support of the ICRC and the IFRC, backed by dozens of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world, Red Crescent volunteers are delivering more than 60 per cent of aid across Syria. Without them, this humanitarian catastrophe would have been much worse. Since the beginning of the conflict, 65 volunteers of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and eight volunteers of the Palestine Red Crescent branch in Syria have lost their lives in the line of duty.
“We ask that States and all parties to the conflict respect and ensure international humanitarian law is respected in their operations,” *added ICRC’s Maurer. “Humanitarian access, the protection of civilians, and humane treatment of detainees are not in the category of ‘nice to have’, they are both a moral and legal obligation.”*
In the neighbouring countries of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, where an estimated 5.3 million Syrians have found refuge, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement also plays an essential role in supporting vulnerable refugees and local communities.
IFRC’s Rocca said:
“Now, more than ever, Syrians need our solidarity and support. Over the past decade there has been tremendous generosity and solidarity. Unfortunately, today, we see that donations are declining despite the worsening humanitarian situation. We have a moral duty to support the sustainability of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, an organization that is so integral to the delivery of the international community’s support. Without the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, millions more would go hungry every month.”