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March 15, 2018

Syrian conflict: 7 years of terror

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As the Syrian conflict enters its 8th year, Humanity & Inclusion is renewing efforts to collect 1 million signatures on its "Stop Bombing Civilians" petition. When bombing and shelling happens in populated areas, civilians pay the heaviest price, making up 92% of those killed and wounded.

Such incessant targeting of civilians has been a hallmark of the Syrian crisis, marked by intense and continuous use of explosive weapons. Indeed, massive bombing raids on Eastern Ghouta since February 18, have killed more than 1,100 civilians and destroyed infrastructure, including hospitals and health centers. In parallel, bombing and shelling of central areas of Damascus have caused dozens of casualties. Over the last months, military offensives accompanied by heavy bombing raids and shelling have killed hundreds of civilians in Idlib governorate, Raqqa governorate and Afrin district.

“Bombardments have reached a terrible intensity with devastating effects on civilians, destroying entire cities, and traumatizing people who survive the fighting,” explains Jeff Meer, U.S. Executive Director of Humanity & Inclusion. “The consequences are appalling: families torn apart, ravaged cities, mass flight of populations, explosive remnants contaminating entire neighborhoods. It will take generations to rebuild the country when the conflict ends. Only a focused outcry from appalled members of the public can help to find political solutions and put an end to the carnage."

In the countries affected by the Syrian crisis, such as Lebanon and Jordan, HI teams witness Syrians’ suffering and trauma. The humanitarian consequences of bombing civilians are horrendous: serious and disabling injuries, heavy psychological trauma, forced displacements and impoverishment of populations, destruction of essential infrastructures (hospitals, ports, bridges, etc.), a breakdown of the social and economic fabric, and more. According to Syria, A Mutilated Future, a fact sheet published by HI in May 2016, among the injuries sustained as a result of the Syrian crisis, 53% are due to the use of explosive weapons. This large number is particularly appalling: 89% of people with injuries due to the use of explosive weapons have permanent or temporary physical impairments.

According to a survey of the International NGO Safety Organization (INSO), 33,394 attacks involving explosive weapons took place in Syria in 2017, accounting for 70% of reported incidents. This represents an average of 91 bombing or shelling attacks each and every day.

HI’s petition calls on states to take immediate action and develop a political declaration to reduce harm and increase the protection of civilians living through conflict, by stopping the use of explosive weapons and by providing assistance to victims, including affected communities. With 1 million signatures, the organization will submit the petition to the United Nations and political decision makers in September 2018. The international petition has gathered nearly 390,000 signatures.

 

About Humanity & Inclusion

Co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, HI is a 35-year-old, independent international association that focuses its actions on people with disabilities and vulnerable groups living in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. HI acts and speaks out to meet their basic needs and improve their living conditions. HI is committed to promoting respect for dignity and fundamental rights. Since its inception in 1982, HI has implemented development programs in more than 60 countries and is involved in many emergency situations. The network of 8 national associations (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the U.S.) is constantly working to mobilize resources, co-manage projects and promote the principles and actions of the organization. For its work, HI has received an array of awards, including the 2011 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize and the Nansen Refugee Prize. 

Humanity & Inclusion is the new name of Handicap International.