Owing to the 3-year civil war in Syria, almost half of the population have been displaced and 2.3 million of them had to take refuge in neighboring countries. According to the estimations of the United Nations (UN), more than half of Syrian refugee population consists of children. The present situation of this refugee groups, who are struggling to survive in neighboring countries, has attracted attention not only in Turkey but also in the whole world.
Nowadays, while we are witnessing one of the biggest humanitarian tragedies of the modern history, a report which was published by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is rather remarkable. Report about the children refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, firstly says a great many of these children who are observed to have psychological stress on them live either alone or away from their families. In addition to those, they cannot have education and they are forced into working illegally and under harsh conditions. Another significant detail that was noted by the UN researchers is that some of those children in Lebanon and Jordan who can frequently give aggressive or emotional reactions, want to go back to their countries to fight.
The second issue that was stated in the report is that the children refugees, most of whom don’t have families or have grown up in broken families, are usually the ones who have to earn money for their household, in other words, they are the breadwinners. It is stated in detail in the UN report that these children who have started to work at a very young age, are made to work in unhealthy and even dangerous environments, for very long hours and low wages.
The third and most crucial part of the report is the education issue. The researchers note that nearly half of the refugee children in Jordan haven’t received any education so far. In Lebanon, this number is expected to reach at 200,000 by the end of the year.
The last and very complicated issue stated in the report is the birth certificate issue. Although the best precaution against “statelessness” in situations like war is to have a birth certificate; according to the UN report, from January 2013 to October 2013 only 68 babies were given that certificate in Jordan. On the other hand, in Lebanon, the situation is not very different from Jordan; 77 % of the new born 781 babies don’t have birth certificates and then a citizenship.
Similar problems were previously stated in Brookings&USAK joint report, Turkey and Syrian Refugees: The Limits of Hospitality. November 2013 dated report on Syrian refugees in Turkey noted that, solely 10 percent of non-camp refugee children have access to education in Turkey. A lot of them forced to work for low paid-jobs, and a huge amount of children is begging in streets. USAK&Brookings report was also warning about “stateless children” of Turkish man-Syrian woman marriages. There is no chance for those to become a citizen of Turkey or Syria because of the unofficial nature of these marriages. In many cases, Syrian women have no passport or identity document, so the children. Researchers are worried about a lost generation.
As a result, it is obviously seen in the published report that the biggest group who have been seriously damaged by civil war is the children, who are supposed to be the decision makers in the future of Syria.
(Source / 07.12.2013)
Syrian chemical weapons facilities are set to undergo sequenced destruction from December 15 to March 15
BRUSSELS, December 6 (RIA Novosti) – An international watchdog overseeing the removal of Syria’s chemical stockpile confirmed that all the respective unfilled munition containers had been destroyed ahead of schedule.
On November 18, Syria informed the secretariat of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that all unfilled chemical munitions on its territory had been eliminated.
The OPCW confirmed the information on Friday in a statement citing its mission in the war-torn country.
The organization’s executive council last month approved a detailed, tentative plan for the dismantlement of the Syrian government’s chemical arsenal to be accomplished in the “safest and soonest manner” no later than June 30, 2014.
The plan envisioned the removal of all declared chemical substances and precursors – except for the sarin component isopropanol – no later than February 5, 2014, with the “most critical” chemicals to be transported out of the country before December 31.
Syrian chemical weapons facilities are set to undergo sequenced destruction from December 15 to March 15.
(Source / 06.12.2013)
(Reuters) – A unit of the Russian security forces is training to counter Islamist militants amid fears fighters in Syria will return to join insurgents in the North Caucasus, Chechnya’s Kremlin-backed leader said.
The Kremlin fears Russian-born militants will return from Syriato join those who want to carve out an Islamic state in Chechnya and other mostly Muslim provinces in the mountains on Russia’s southern fringe.
Officials have said 400 Russians are fighting with al Qaeda affiliated groups in Syria. Experts estimate the numbers are much higher. Some Chechens, veterans of two post-Soviet wars against Russian rule, have emerged as Syrian rebel leaders.
“These bandits post videos daily claiming that after Syria they will migrate to the North Caucasus and engage in terrorist and subversive activities,” Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov said in a statement posted on the regional government’s website late on Wednesday.
“We cannot sit quietly listening to these threats and wait for this plague to move towardRussia … so the police and the republic’s leadership are taking preventative measures.”
A spokesman for Kadyrov refused to provide details on the steps being taken by law enforcement agencies.
More than a decade after Moscow defeated a separatist revolt in Chechnya, it is fighting an insurgency that has shifted from a nationalist cause to an Islamist one and spread to other Caucasus mountain provinces.
Rebels now launch near-daily attacks in Ingushetia, Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria, often engaging in firefights with security officers.
On Thursday, Russia said it had killed five suspected militants in Dagestan. The men had fired shots at police officers patrolling Sadovoye village near Khasavyurt, a city 90 km (55 miles) northwest of the regional capital Makhachkala, a law-enforcement source who did not want to be identified said.
Islamist Chechen rebel Doku Umarov, who leads militants seeking a Caucasus Emirate in Russia, urged his fighters in July to use “maximum force” to sabotage the Olympics.
A suicide bombing in October that killed seven people in Volgograd, a city north of Sochi, raised fears of further attacks. Twin suicide bombings in the Moscow subway in 2010 killed 40 and a bombing at a Moscow airport in 2011 killed 37.
President Vladimir Putin, who has staked his reputation on the Games’ success, has said militants returning from Syria pose “a very real” threat and signed an anti-terrorism law this month to jail for up to six years any who come home.
Russia has been President Bashar al-Assad’s strongest diplomatic backer during the conflict in Syria and has frequently said Islamist militants are gaining increasing might among rebels fighting the government.
The new law makes relatives of militants financially liable for damage caused by attacks, a measure aimed at deterring militants by putting pressure on their families.
“The terrorists in Syria must know what awaits them in Russia if they show up here,” Kadyrov said.
Authorities in Chechnya have banned funeral ceremonies for anyone killed in Syria, and officially backed Muslim clerics cast the conflict as an internal political struggle, not a religious fight.
Kadyrov said last month he had fired a senior immigration official in Chechnya because his daughter had joined Syrian rebels. The defection from the wealthy and well-connected family highlights the attraction for Sunni Muslim youths in the North Caucasus of joining the Syrian conflict.
Kadyrov, an ethnic Chechen who once fought with separatists but later switched sides and pledged loyalty to the Kremlin, has imposed an uneasy peace in the region, using tough methods.
Human rights groups accuse security services in Chechnya of carrying out kidnappings, torture and extrajudicial killings to quash insurgents and silence Kadyrov’s critics. Kadyrov denies the accusations of abuse.
(Source / 05.12.2013)
A Syrian couple mourning in front of bodies wrapped in shrouds ahead of funerals following a toxic gas attack by unconfirmed forces in eastern Ghouta.
Amman – Opposition activists again accused President Bashar al-Assad’s forces of using poison gas in Syria’s civil war on Thursday, and said victims had been discovered with swollen limbs and foaming at the mouth.
The activists told Reuters two shells loaded with gas hit a rebel-held area in the town of Nabak, 68km northeast of Damascus, on a major highway in the Qalamoun region. They reported seven casualties.
Separately, the Syrian Revolution Coordinators Union also accused Assad’s forces of using poison gas.
“We have documented nine casualties from poison gas used by the regime in neighbourhoods of Nabak,” it said on its Facebook page.
A nerve gas attack killed hundreds of people in rebel-held neighbourhoods on the edge of Damascus on 21 August. Each side blamed the other.
Assad subsequently agreed to give up his chemical weapons arsenal under a deal struck between Moscow and Washington that averted a US attack on Damascus, and international inspectors have begun work on dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons facilities.
Opposition groups have accused Assad’s forces of using chemical weapons several times before and since the 21 August incident.
Reuters cannot verify reports in Syria due to reporting restrictions. It was not clear what kind of gas, if any, might have been used in Nabak and there was no immediate comment from Syrian authorities.
“Seven men are reported ill so far. They have swollen limbs and foam coming out of their mouths,” said an activist calling himself Amer al-Qalamouni.
“No doctors have got to them yet because Nabak is under ferocious bombardment and there are very few medical staff left.”
Amir Kazk, another activist in Nabak, said the two shells were part of a heavy barrage that hit the Tariq al-Mashfa district near the centre of the town. The source of the fire, he added, appeared to be an army barracks on a hill in the nearby Deir Attiya area.
Video footage posted on YouTube by activists showed a man who said he had seen white smoke from the shelling, inhaled it and then passed out. Reuters cannot confirm its authenticity.
Syrian forces have used a range of weapons in the civil war, including cluster bombs, incendiary bombs and improvised explosives. Rebels have also made their own weaponry.
(Source / 05.12.2013)
Top Syrian rebel General Salim Idriss denied on Wednesday reports that he would join arms with government forces to fight al-Qaeda groups after the downfall of President Bashar al-Assad.
In an interview with Al Arabiya News Channel Idriss denied an earlier report by UK’s The Times quoting him as saying that he was ready to fight side by side with regime forces against radical groups.
“The regime’s army is a traitor and we cannot cooperate with it,” said Idriss, who is the head of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
“I have not made any statements to British newspapers,” he added.
In the purported interview with The Times, Idriss said opposition fighters would battle the al-Qaeda affiliate group named Islamic State of Iraq (ISIL) and the Levant, which he described as “very dangerous for the future of Syria.”
The Times reported that Idriss has warned the ISIL was seeking to gain “complete control over liberated areas.”
“His remarks appeared to indicate a shift in the chaotic dynamics of the civil war, with the FSA setting itself in open opposition for the first time to the growing influence of jihadist groups — a key concern of the West,” according to The Times.
“He softened his demands before peace talks in Geneva planned for next month, saying that Mr Assad’s removal from power was no longer a precondition, but could follow from the negotiations,” The Times said, referring to Idriss.
Idriss, however, denied to Al Arabiya any intention to cooperate with the Assad’s regime but confirmed the part that rebels would be satisfied if Assad’s departure came at the end of the negotiations process.
(Source / 04.12.2013)
Headquarters in The Hague of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which has developed the plans to remove chemical weapons from Syria.
Next month’s much anticipated Geneva II peace talks to try to end the bloody conflict in Syria, now in its 33rd month, face numerous challenges – not least, it emerged this week, the lack of hotel rooms.The United Nations and Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said in an interview broadcast on Switzerland’s RTS that the organisers were struggling to find rooms because the 22 January date clashes with the start of the annual World Economic Forum at the nearby ski resort of Davos and a luxury watch fair in Geneva.The likely consequence is that the crisis will have to be discussed in the nearby city of Montreux at the other end of Lake Geneva. “If we go to Montreux, it would be for just 24 hours, while waiting for the watch show and Davos to end,” Brahimi told RTS.(Source / 04.12.2013)
Displaced Syrian children particularly vulnerable to cold weather, inadequate water and sanitation
GENEVA / AMMAN, 3 December 2013 – Nearly 5.5 million vulnerable Syrian children will soon face another season of harsh winter weather. January of last year brought the coldest temperatures in more than a decade and UNICEF is very concerned that exposure to similarly cold and wet conditions will place further strain on the health and wellbeing of displaced Syrian children.
The scale of the humanitarian response needed for the looming winter is unprecedented. In December of last year, there were approximately 1.15 million children affected by the crisis inside Syria, with an additional 232,000 Syrian children living as refugees in neighbouring countries. Today, as the conflict approaches its three year mark, those numbers have skyrocketed to 4.3 million and 1.2 million, respectively.
“Millions of displaced Syrian children have had to find safety under what are, frankly, inadequate living conditions,” said Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “When freezing temperatures and rain are added to the mix, children under five are especially susceptible to opportunistic illnesses like acute respiratory infections which spread easily in overcrowded settings.”
There are currently more than 436,000 Syrian refugee children under the age of five in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and North Africa living in refugee camps, tented settlements and host communities. “Together with our partners, we have already mobilized emergency supplies in Syria and the region to keep children warm, dry and healthy this winter,” said Calivis.
The situation facing the more than 400,000 Syrian child refugees in Lebanon is especially precarious as thousands of families are currently sheltering in tented settlements on flood-prone land. Should tents and latrines be flooded with rain, there is an increased risk of exposure to water borne diseases.
UNICEF in Lebanon is distributing 88,000 winter clothing kits to children living in tented settlements across the country. Each kit includes a jacket, waterproof boots, gloves, scarf, wool hat and warm underclothes. UNICEF is also working to reinforce drainage systems, desludge waste tanks and construct concrete foundations for families in tents. Additional supplies such as energy boilers for hot showers are also being placed in camps.
• In Syria itself, UNICEF plans to reach 2,000,000 children with a package of emergency supplies for the winter. The package will include winter clothing for children, blankets, plastic sheeting, and hygiene kits.
• In Jordan, UNICEF will provide 35,000 winter clothing kits for Syrian refugee children under five, in addition to 24,000 blankets.
• To keep children in school, UNICEF is procuring 370 winterized tents for classrooms and child friendly spaces in Syrian refugee camps in Iraq and Turkey, along with fuel for heating.
UNICEF urgently requires additional funds to provide vital winter-related emergency supplies to children and families in Syria and neighbouring countries. With a funding gap in excess of US $13 million for the emergency response, a significant proportion is needed to protect children from the winter.
(Source / 03.12.2013)
Residents carry buckets as they wait for their turn to receive meals from a soup kitchen in Raqqa, Syria on October 7, 2013.People in Syria are desperate for food, shelter and health care. Access to besieged communities is a litmus test for real change in the relief effort, and the Security Council should make clear that Syria is failing that test.
(New York) – Syrian government and some opposition forces are preventing the delivery of humanitarian assistance to hundreds of thousands of civilians in areas under siege in Syria. Local activists and residents in the Damascus countryside and Homs told Human Rights Watch in phone interviews that people are suffering from an increasingly severe shortage of food and that people are dying from lack of medical care because of the siege.
The United Nations humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, is to brief the UN Security Council on December 3, 2013, on the humanitarian situation in Syria. The Security Council should adopt a resolution demanding access for humanitarian organizations to deliver aid such as food and medicine to the besieged areas.
“People in Syria are desperate for food, shelter and health care,” said Philippe Bolopion, United Nations director at Human Rights Watch. “Access to besieged communities is a litmus test for real change in the relief effort, and the Security Council should make clear that Syria is failing that test.”
The Security Council issued a non-binding presidential statement on the humanitarian situation on October 2, calling on all sides to facilitate access. Humanitarian organizations have reported that the Syrian government has removed some bureaucratic obstacles but continues to bar access. The Security Council should ratchet up the pressure by adopting a binding resolution and making clear that failure to abide by it will result in targeted sanctions.
Human Rights Watch interviewed 11 local activists and residents from the Old City of Homs, Damascus, and in towns in the Damascus countryside, including Moadamiya, Douma, Yalda, Yarmouk, and Erbin.
The activists and residents said that the Syrian government has for months laid siege to their areas, cutting electricity and communications and preventing food, medicine, and aid workers from reaching civilians in need. Residents from south Damascus, Moadamiya, and Eastern Ghouta said that government forces have tightened the siege in the last several months. A member of the local council in Eastern Ghouta told Human Rights Watch:
Government forces sometimes allowed some people to leave and bring back food and other supplies through a checkpoint in Yarmouk as long as they did not use their cars. Several months ago, however, the soldiers sealed off the checkpoint completely, preventing people from bringing anything in. Since then we have had no bread at all.
International humanitarian organizations told Human Rights Watch that the Syrian government has denied them access to the besieged areas despite repeated requests.
In a briefing to the Security Council on November 1, Amos estimated that 288,000 people were in areas under government siege in Damascus, the Damascus countryside, and Homs.
Local activists and residents in besieged areas told Human Rights Watch that they are experiencing severe food shortages as a result of these restrictions. One local activist in Moadamiya told Human Rights Watch:
The only food we have left is olives, some basic vegetables, and we eat the leaves off the trees. Sometimes we cook soup using some of the vegetables, add salt and pepper and olive oil, but it tastes like nothing and it provides little nutrition. This has been the situation since August when all of Moadamiya ran out of food.
People’s faces are yellow because of malnutrition and all of us have lost a lot of weight. I myself lost about 17 kilograms in the last four months. We start to feel cold very quickly. We can’t fight the low temperatures. That is now one more enemy for us – the cold. It is a terrifying situation. It is a race against time.
While some of the besieged areas contain or are adjacent to farmland, planting and harvesting have become increasingly dangerous because government forces attack anybody they see in the farmlands, the people interviewed told Human Rights Watch. Some said they had lost significant weight because of food shortages.
The medical situation is also dire, local activists and medical personnel said. In some of the besieged areas, government shelling has destroyed local hospitals, forcing medical personnel to treat patients in improvised field clinics. A local activist said that shelling destroyed three hospitals in Moadamiya, for example, and that medical workers were treating all patients in a field clinic in a basement.
Medical workers and local activists in the besieged area told Human Rights Watch that the blockade had prevented them from receiving medicines and medical supplies for months and that they had run out of many basic medical supplies crucial for treating patients, such as blood, antibiotics, bandages, and anesthetics.
It is impossible to verify these accounts because the government has prevented independent human rights observers and humanitarian organizations from accessing the areas.
It is not clear to what extent civilians are being prevented from leaving conflict areas. Civilians have managed to flee some areas under siege and it seems to be possible for civilians to leave at least some areas through government checkpoints. In October, for example, thousands fled Moadamiya, a Damascus suburb under government siege, during a negotiated cease-fire.
But local activists and residents cited several cases in which government forces at checkpoints surrounding Moadamiya, Eastern Ghouta, and the Old City in Homs harassed, attacked, and detained people trying to leave, in particular targeting men of fighting age.
Residents in Yarmouk and the Old City of Homs said that opposition fighters have also restricted the ability of civilians to flee these areas. Others said that the main obstacle to leaving was ongoing fighting. In many cases, people said they do not have financial means to leave their homes and go live somewhere else.
Outside of the besieged areas, the government also refuses to allow humanitarian organizations to deliver aid from Turkey to opposition-controlled areas in northern Syria. Without Syrian consent to enter, some of the major humanitarian organizations, including UN agencies, take unreliable, circuitous routes to reach people in need, sometimes crossing dozens of checkpoints. The UN estimates that 2.5 million people are trapped in such “hard-to-reach” areas.
The Syrian government recently stated that it would allow cross-border aid from Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq, but not from Turkey.Even this “permission” may not improve the efficacy of humanitarian aid delivery, Human Rights Watch said, since the Syrian government still seems to insist that organizations bring all aid first to Damascus before they distribute it to other parts of the country.
Opposition fighters in northern Syria are preventing humanitarian assistance from reaching tens of thousands of people trapped in two Shia villages just north of the city of Aleppo, the UN has reported. Human Rights Watch was not able to reach any residents of those villages.
Inside Aleppo, which is split between government and opposition control, opposition fighters have from time to time prevented supplies from reaching the government-controlled area. Anti-government groups have also kidnapped aid workers, including employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross, three of whom they still hold.
Under international humanitarian law, all parties to an armed conflict are obligated to facilitate rapid and unimpeded humanitarian assistance to all civilians in need. Starvation as a method of warfare is prohibited.
“As winter weather sets in, the situation in besieged and hard-to-reach areas in Syria becomes even more dire, and people are becoming desperate,” Bolopion said. “There is no time for delay.”
(Source / 03.12.2013)