Civilians Attacked in Syria
Content by: South-South News
19 April 2017, New York, USA | South-South News — A spokesperson for the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said an attack on a convoy of Syrian families leaving a besieged town “most likely amounts to a war crime.”
Speaking to reporters in Geneva on April 18, Rupert Colville said while his office was unable to confirm how the attack was carried out or who was responsible, footage seen by OHCHR staff “showed children gathering around a person who was giving out sweets just prior to the explosion.”
Media reports indicated that a blast struck a convoy leaving the towns of Fouah and Kefraya, which were besieged by opposition groups, on Saturday killing civilians, aid workers, and opposition fighters. The convoy was carrying people being evacuated to Syrian-government controlled area as part of the Four Towns evacuation plan negotiated by Qatar and Iran. According to OHCHR, 96 civilians died in this latest mass killing, including 13 women, 16 men, and 67 children.
Colville said that these people had been living under incessant shelling for more than two years, with little food or medical supplies, and under the constant fear of attack by armed groups. He said some of the injured civilians remained missing and some were believed to have been taken by armed opposition groups to opposition controlled hospitals in Idlib Governorate. He added that their families were very concerned for their safety “due to their perceived sympathies for the Government of Syria.”
Colville reminded reporters that this attack comes shortly after the Khan Sheikhoun attack, where over 88 civilians were killed, including at least 28 children and was “another example of civilians paying the highest cost in this terrible long lasting war.” He said, “The high number of civilian casualties is a clear indication of the violation of the laws of armed conflict which require parties to spare the civilian population at all times, and the number of children reportedly killed is particularly abhorrent.
UNICEF spokesperson Christophe Boulierac said UNICEF had provided immediate support to those injured in the attack including ambulances to transfer the injured to four hospitals regularly supported by UNICEF. He said UNICEF was working with its local partners to provide assistance to survivors and other evacuees including by providing primary healthcare, nutritional services, and vaccines.
Boulierac said the attack was “the latest painful reminder that throughout the country children continue to come under attack on a daily basis and in the most gruesome of ways.” He said children in all besieged towns in Syria had been “deprived of basic humanitarian assistance needed to save and to sustain their lives” for months on end with some 280,000 children living under siege and 2.8 million in hard to reach areas.