DPI Syria Update No. 133 – 10 February 2016

UN top humanitarian official urges end to all military actions in northern Syria
Amid reports that over 30,000 civilians have been displaced from Aleppo city and other areas in northern Syria by heavy clashes and airstrikes over the past week, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien urged all parties to immediately halt all actions that might result in civilian loss. “I urge the Government and other parties to this conflict to hold to their obligations under international human rights and international humanitarian law to protect all civilians in Syria and allow neutral, impartial humanitarian organizations safe and unconditional access to all people in need”, he said in a statement on 8 February. Mr. O’Brien also expressed grave concerns at the situation for civilians in other parts of the country, including the Dar’a governorate in the south. The UN and humanitarian partners are working to quickly increase the response, providing newly displaced families with food assistance or cash as well as deploying mobile clinics at the camps near the Bab al Salameh border crossing.


UNHCR calls on Turkey to allow broader access for Syrian refugees

In view of the recent displacement in Aleppo province, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) called on Turkish authorities on 9 February to ensure a broader access to their territory for all those in need of international protection. The agency said it stands ready to assist Turkey to manage new arrivals of refugees, and has pre-positioned relief close to the Syrian border. Given the magnitude of the needs, UNHCR stressed that greater support is required and called on the international community to swiftly and meaningfully increase support to Turkey.



Syrian civilians suffer large-scale executions and deaths in detention centres

Thousands of Syrian detainees have been killed while in the custody of warring parties, according to the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria. In its latest report, “Out of sight, out of mind: Deaths in detention in the Syrian Arab Republic”, issued on 8 February, the Commission describes how Syrian civilians have been arbitrarily arrested, unlawfully detained, taken hostage, or kidnapped since the conflict started. Eyewitness accounts and documentary evidence suggest that tens of thousands of people are detained by the Syrian Government at any one time. On the one hand, the Government has committed crimes against humanity of murder, rape or other forms of sexual violence, torture, imprisonment, enforced disappearance and other inhuman acts. On the other hand, some terrorist and anti-Government armed groups have committed the war crimes of murder and cruel treatment. Through this report, the Commission hopes that efforts will be strengthened to find a path to justice for Syrian civilians as well as to assist prosecutorial and judicial authorities seeking to bring cases at a national or international level. “Accountability for these and other crimes must form part of any political solution,” said Commissioner Carla del Ponte. “Instead, these violations are being committed with total impunity”.




Donors pledge over $US 6 billion in humanitarian aid for Syria

At a two-day conference in London on 4 February, donors and host countries raised more than US$6 billion and pledged continued support for more than 22 million people in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria and across the region in 2016. Over US$5 billion was also pledged for aid and development programmes until 2020. Speaking to reporters after the conference, the Secretary-General hailed the donors’ commitment. “Never has the international community raised so much money on a single day for a single crisis,” he said, noting the funding will enable aid workers to continue to reach millions of people with life-saving assistance.



UN food agency delivers aid to people fleeing increased fighting in Aleppo

In response to the surge of violence in northern Aleppo, the UN World Food Programme (WFP), on 9 February, started distributing urgently needed food to people displaced by the fighting. The aid was transported on cross-border convoys from Turkey into the town of A’zaz, 30 kilometres northwest of Aleppo city. WFP aims to reach 21,000 people with more distribution. “The situation is quite volatile and fluid in northern Aleppo with families on the move seeking safety,” said Jakob Kern, WFP’s Country Director in Syria. “We are extremely concerned as access and supply routes from the north to eastern Aleppo city and surrounding areas are now cut off. But we are making every effort to get enough food in place for all those in need, bringing it in through the remaining open border crossing point from Turkey.” The agency is urging all parties to the conflict to provide immediate access to the affected people.



Unity and action urgently needed to combat ISIL, UN official tells the Security Council

In a briefing to the Security Council on 9 January, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman stressed that the international community urgently needed “unity and action” to combat the continuing threat posed by ISIL. While presenting the first report of the Secretary-General in line with resolution 2253 (2015), Mr. Feltman noted the group’s continuing expansion, including by recruitment on the internet and social media platforms, and called for an end to protracted conflicts, particularly in Syria and Iraq. He also pointed out that ISIL continued to perpetrate appalling human rights abuses against populations under its control, including mass executions and widespread torture. The situation had led to a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions, with over 12 million people forced to flee their homes in Syria alone.




UN Special Envoy meets with Syrian political actors and civil society representatives

As part of his ongoing consultations for an early resumption of the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura met on 5 February with Syrian political figures associated with the Moscow and Cairo processes, as referenced in Security Council resolution 2254 (2015), who had received individual invites.

The Envoy also met separately with the Women’s Advisory Board and civil society representatives as part of his continued consultations with the widest spectrum of Syrian society in order to bring an end to five years of devastating conflict.



UN Radio in Arabic

WFP distributes emergency food aid to people fleeing the escalating violence in Aleppo



Thousands of migrants arriving in Europe daily across the Mediterranean since the start of the year



30,000 foreign terrorist fighters from more than 100 countries have joined Da’esh and related groups



Humanitarian agencies intensify efforts to help thousands of displaced people fleeing from Aleppo



Stephen O’Brien calls on the Syrian warring parties to allow civilians displaced from Aleppo to reach safe areas



Ranim Safarini talks about the importance of “Sa’a Suriyi” radio program communicating between the Syrian refugees and those delivering relief services



Paulo Pinheiro: Syrian civilians are subjected to executions and death in prison



Special Envoy de Mistura meets Syrian political officials and representatives of civil society



Weekly programme “From the Headquarters” highlights the fourth donors Conference for Syria and the region



ILO Director stresses the importance of providing employment opportunities for Syrian refugees



Secretary-General hails the success of London Conference, which received unprecedented pledges of support for Syria and the region



Ban Ki-moon and the King of Jordan discuss the Syrian crisis at the donor conference in London



UN Twitter

See @OCHA_Syria flash update on the humanitarian developments in Aleppo http://bit.ly/1T9ZnB7  #SyriaCrisis pic.twitter.com/675D2Pgb0S-9 February


Now online: #COISyria report on deaths in the Syrian Arab Republic – @UN_HRC http://goo.gl/0bj1gx  https://twitter.com/UN_HRC/status/696684494368215040

-8 February


UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria releases new report at @UNGeneva 1pm GMT Live: http://webtv.un.org  #COISyria pic.twitter.com/FD60Z5pFY9

-8 February


Prized birds offer Syrian @refugees in Lebanon a reminder of their old lives http://trib.al/9dImFup  pic.twitter.com/ER5pQaGsgV

-7 February


What happened this week at the UN? See video updates on Zika virus, funds raised for Syria & Intl Day to #endFGM https://youtu.be/CEput-Usf-Q

-6 February


5 facts on the #SyriaCrisis and its impact on health from @WHO http://goo.gl/QIC2lK  #SupportSyrians pic.twitter.com/nVE9kd8dXP

-6 February


How can you #SupportSyrians? One way is donating to the Syria emergency fund: http://ow.ly/XTJWM  via @UNOCHA pic.twitter.com/7ho20wkr63

-6 February


3 of out 4 Syrians live in poverty – @WFP shares their stories: http://panorama.wfp.org/iamsyrian  #IamSyrian pic.twitter.com/T2Ppw9zvLf

-6 February


At #SupportSyrians conf in London, Ban Ki-moon says ways must be found to protect civilians http://bit.ly/1UNDcyc  pic.twitter.com/XJ6JQBMQGm

-5 February


Leaders at #SupportSyrians conf are using @Instagram to call attn to the #Syriacrisis, see: https://www.instagram.com/unitednations/  pic.twitter.com/9TtPIrkstm

-5 February


Social media campaigns

Joint appeal to end suffering in Syria #SyriaCrisis

More than 120 humanitarian organizations and UN agencies issued a joint appeal on 21 January, urging the world to raise their voices and call for an end to the Syria crisis and to the suffering endured by millions of civilians. The appeal outlines a series of immediate, practical steps that can improve humanitarian access and the delivery of aid to those in need inside Syria. People can “sign” the appeal by liking, sharing, and retweeting it.




#MyVoiceMySchool- On 25 January in London and 27 January in Brussels, the #MyVoiceMySchool project will connect European students with Palestine refugee students to discuss the importance of education in their lives. The calls are taking place a few days ahead of the ’Supporting Syria and the Region, London 2016’ conference on 4 February. The #MyVoiceMySchool project has connected Palestine refugee students in Homs, Damascus and Rif Damascus with peers in Brussels and London.


#4Syria campaign was launched on 20 March 2015 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to highlight the Syria conflict, now in its fifth year. The campaign calls for an end to the conflict and seeks to raise funds for UNRWA programmes supporting Palestine refugees in Syria as well as those displaced outside the country.  It features testimonies of Palestine refugees, as well as documents highlighting emergency work carried out by UNRWA in the region. View the campaign at: http://www.unrwa.org/syria-crisis/syria4thanniversary 

ShareTheMeal is a smartphone application launched by the UN World Food Programme in November 2015 to support refugee children who have fled the conflict in Syria to neighbouring countries. The free app is available for iOS and Android app stores worldwide. Users can make donations and start sharing meals with hungry children. Contributions will benefit Syrian refugee children in Jordan who are part of WFP’s school meals programme.