A Statement by Justice for Life on the World Humanitarian Day

All parties must respect the principles of international humanitarian law and facilitate the work of humanitarian organizations

1-Since the war erupted in Syria after months of peaceful movement demanding change, humanitarian workers and activists who have been providing relief and medical assistance to those affected by the war have been subjected to various violations, including arrest, enforced disappearance, threats and murder. Today, more than nine years later, the threats continue despite repeated appeals, and the various parties to the conflict are not properly complied with the required protection.

On the World Humanitarian Day, August 19, Justice for Life offers thanks and respect to humanitarian workers around the world, and in Syria in particular. JFL remembers paying tribute to all those who died or were injured in the course of their work.  It pays tribute to all humanitarian and relief workers in areas of conflict and armed conflict who continue to provide their support and assistance despite all challenges and difficulties.

2-According to the United Nations, in 2019 there were 277 attacks around the world targeting 483 aid workers, resulting in 125 deaths, 234 injuries and 124 abductions. Most of the attacks took place in Syria.

Over the past nine years, Justice for Life organization has documented numerous violations against humanitarian workers in its areas of operation in East Syria , as well as the obstruction and delay of efforts by parties to a conflict that have directly affected displaced persons and residents.

-On 22 June 2012, Bashar Zuhair al-Yousef, a volunteer with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent branch in Deir Ezzor, was killed after being shot directly. A month later, on July 10, 2012, the same branch volunteer, Khaled al-Khafaji, born in 1983, was shot while being treated.

-In July 2012, a young man, Jarir al-Kdaib, who was hardly 18 years old, was killed by a bullet fired from a Syrian government checkpoint.

-On 30 December 2013, Medlej Ghazi Abdulaziz and Ibrahim al-Hamid were arrested in Deir Ezzor, two Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers.

-In October 2018, the contract of the organization that supplied Abu Khashab camp in Deir Ezzor with water expired and the camp remained without water for four days.

-In February 2019, a flood in Abu Khashab camp in Deir Ezzor, areas controlled by the SDF, caused extensive damage to tents and hundreds of families remained in the open for several As a result of the delay in the intervention of humanitarian organizations without clear reasons.

3-The protection of humanitarian aid workers has become a binding rule in customary law, obliging all parties to international and non-international armed conflicts. Rules (31) and (32) of the ICRC’s study on customary international humanitarian law state that “humanitarian relief personnel must be respected and protected ” Objects used for humanitarian relief operations must be respected and protected.”

Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, states that the ICRC and any impartial humanitarian organization reserve the right to humanitarian initiative.

Articles (61) and (62) of Additional Protocol I state that the Civil Defence Personnel are provided with special protection against attacks.

Similarly, the Fourth Geneva Convention in Articles 18, 20 and Additional Protocol II in Articles 9 and 10 prohibit attacks on civilian hospitals and and give special protection for medical relief workers. According to Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, attacks on humanitarian personnel or facilities in international and non-international armed conflicts are a war crime.

4-Justice for Life emphasizes the humanitarian principles of humanitarian action and recommends that humanitarian workers including organizations and individuals to apply and adhere to them:

-The principle of Humanity:Which, in accordance with the definition of the International RedCross and Red Crescent Movement,means ensuring that individuals are treated humanely in all circumstances,and that the Humanitarian Relief Organizationis independent of any restrictions other than humanitarian restrictions.

-The principle of Independence:The sole purpose of humanitarian action is to defend individuals who are in need,independently of any financial,military or political Organizations, from the principles of their founding to the practice of their activities,should adopt the principle of transparency,which controls and demonstrates their independence.

-The principle of Impartiality: Which means the implementation of humanitarian activity without discrimination, since everyone is equal in their suffering, and no one should be denied the assistance they need, giving priority to those who need it most regardless of their Humanitarian action must not be done equally, but on the basis of justice, relying on the specific needs of the individuals concerned.

-Principle of Neutrality:It means not siding with a party to the conflict,either directly or indirectly.

In the same vein, Justice for Life recommends that all actors in Syria:

-To respect the principles of international humanitarian law that prohibits the targeting of humanitarian workers.

-To facilitate the work of humanitarian organizations in all Syrian territories,enable them to carryout their tasks without any threat or pressure,and allow them to reach victims wherever they are.

-To release detainees arrested in connection with their humanitarian work.

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