Press releasesOffice of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Syria: Deadly attacks affecting IDP camps
08 November 2022
We are gravely concerned by a series of deadly ground-based strikes and airstrikes that struck several camps for internally displaced persons in Idlib on Sunday, amid worrying signs of a fresh escalation of hostilities in north-western Syria.
The UN Human Rights Office has verified the killing of at least seven civilians, including a woman, three girls, and one boy, and the wounding of at least 27 others, including seven women, four girls, and two boys.
The upsurge in fighting and the return to violence are cause for alarm. As in previous escalations, civilians are the ones paying an unacceptable price in terms of loss of lives, diminished access to basic life-saving services, destruction of essential infrastructure, and exposure to further displacement – all exacerbated by harsh weather conditions, a dire humanitarian and economic situation, and an outbreak of cholera in the area.
In October, the level of hostilities involving a number of parties, particularly Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and some of the Turkish-affiliated armed groups, increased, raising concerns that violence could spread and impact other key areas, including Idlib.
These fears were realised during the early morning of 6 November, when ground-based strikes and airstrikes by pro-government forces hit several areas, including IDP camps located in close proximity to each other on the outskirt of the towns of Kafr Jalis, Morin and Kafr Ruhin in western rural Idlib, as well as the areas of al Sinaa and Ariha in southern rural Idlib. Of particular concern were the attacks that impacted the densely populated Maram IDP camp, situated near the town of Kafr Jalis, which resulted in at least five civilian casualties and the destruction of or damage to dozens of IDP tents.
According to reports received by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs at least 400 families have been newly displaced as a result of these hostilities.
It is essential that all parties to the conflict strictly abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law to take constant care to spare the civilian population and civilian objects in the conduct of hostilities. They must adopt all feasible precautions to avoid, and in any event to minimize, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, and damage to civilian objects – that is non-negotiable.
The fact that several densely populated IDP camps were struck during attacks that appear to have been carried out heedless of their lethal impact on civilians raises serious concerns. We emphasise – to all parties to the conflict - that indiscriminate attacks are prohibited by international humanitarian law and, depending on the circumstances, may further amount to war crimes.
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