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Syria: UN Must Not Cut Vital Aid Lifeline to North-West Amid Russian and Syrian War Crimes: Amnesty International

Geir O. Pederson, Special Envoy for Syria, briefs reporters after the Security Council consultations on the situation in Syria,22 November 2019~ UN Photo by Evan Schneider
  • Detailed investigation into 18 air and ground attacks on schools and hospitals
  • Russia and Syria deliberately hit hospitals on UN ‘do not target’ list
  • Strong evidence of Russia’s direct involvement in unlawful air strikes

The UN Security Council must not cut a vital aid lifeline for civilians in the context of war crimes and crimes against humanity in north-west Syria, Amnesty International urged today, as a resolution allowing humanitarian assistance to reach Idlib across Syria’s borders is set to expire in the coming weeks.

A new Amnesty International report, ‘Nowhere is safe for us’: Unlawful attacks and mass displacement in north-west Syria, details 18 cases – the majority in January and February 2020 – where Syrian and/or Russian government forces targeted medical facilities and schools in Idlib, western Aleppo and north-western Hama governorates.

As a result, before the 5 March ceasefire almost 1 million people in Idlib – many of whom had been displaced repeatedly – were forced to flee again and languished in dire conditions in recent months.

“Even by the standards of Syria’s calamitous nine-year crisis, the displacement and humanitarian emergency sparked by the latest onslaught on Idlib has been unprecedented. The UN Security Council must not cut the vital lifeline of cross-border humanitarian aid while thousands of lives hang in the balance,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.

Even by the standards of Syria’s calamitous nine-year crisis, the displacement and humanitarian emergency sparked by the latest onslaught on Idlib has been unprecedented. The UN Security Council must not cut the vital lifeline of cross-border humanitarian aid while thousands of lives hang in the balance.”

Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s
Middle East And North Africa Director

“The latest offensive continued an abhorrent pattern of widespread and systematic attacks aimed at terrorizing the civilian population. Meanwhile, Russia has continued to provide invaluable military support – including by directly carrying out unlawful air strikes – despite evidence that it is facilitating the Syrian military’s commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Extensive evidence corroborates witness accounts

Amnesty International interviewed 74 people for the report, including internally displaced people, teachers, doctors and humanitarian workers. Witness accounts were corroborated by videos and photographs as well as expert analysis of satellite imagery, reports by flight spotters on the ground and intercepted Russian and Syrian air force flight communications.

These audio recordings of transmissions from the cockpits of warplanes provide strong evidence of the Russian military’s involvement in at least one unlawful attack that put a hospital out of service.

Attacks on hospitals

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres briefs reporters on the latest developments in Syria,21 February 2020~UN Photo by Evan Schneider

According to the Idlib Health Directorate, Syrian or Russian attacks damaged or destroyed 10 medical facilities in Idlib and Aleppo between December 2019 and February 2020, killing nine medical and other staff. Dozens of other medical facilities had to close altogether.

Amnesty International documented attacks resulting in the closure of five hospitals in areas under armed opposition group control.

A doctor who survived one of these attacks – three Russian air strikes that hit the vicinity of al-Shami hospital in Ariha on 29 January 2020 – told Amnesty International that the strikes flattened at least two residential buildings around the hospital, killing 11 civilians including one of his colleagues, and injuring more than 30 others.

“I felt so helpless. My friend and colleague dying, children and women screaming outside,” he said, adding that “it took the civil defence two days to remove the bodies” from the rubble.I felt so helpless. My friend and colleague dying, children and women screaming outside,” he said, adding that “it took the civil defence two days to remove the bodies” from the rubble. A doctor in Ariha, Idlib governorate

Based on corroborating witness statements and other credible information, particularly observations by flight spotters, Amnesty International concluded this unlawful attack was carried out by Russian forces.

Attacks on schools

According to the Hurras Network (Syrian Child Protection Network), a Syrian NGO, 28 schools were hit by air and ground attacks in January and February 2020. Ten schools were targeted on a single day alone – 25 February – killing nine civilians. 

Amnesty International investigated attacks on six schools in this period, which included the Syrian forces’ use of air-dropped barrel bombs and ground-fired cluster munitions against two schools on 28 January and 25 February, respectively.

A teacher told Amnesty International:

“A [cluster munition] bomblet exploded close to my feet, blowing the flesh off… The pain was unbearable. I felt heat as if my feet were burning. Two students were walking in front of me. One died instantly and the other one, miraculously, survived. I am sure it was a cluster munition because I heard several explosions. I know the sound of a cluster munition attack very well. You hear a series of small explosions. As if the sky were raining shrapnel instead of water.

A [cluster munition] bomblet exploded close to my feet, blowing the flesh off… The pain was unbearable. I felt heat as if my feet were burning. Two students were walking in front of me. One died instantly and the other one, miraculously, survived.”

A Teacher in Maaret Misrin

Amnesty International identified the remnant as a surface-fired, 220mm 9M27K cargo rocket, manufactured in Russia and transferred to the Syrian army. It contains 9N210 or 9N235 cluster munitions, which are prohibited under international law.

Civilians targeted deliberately

Refugee Children in Idlib: Photo Courtesy: WFP

The incidents documented in the report exemplify how Syrian and Russian forces continue to deliberately target civilians and civilian objects. These are serious violations of international humanitarian law, which requires warring parties to distinguish between military targets and fighters, and civilian objects and civilians, and to direct their attacks only at the former. They are also war crimes and those who order or commit such acts are criminally liable. In addition to the immunity from attack deriving from their status as civilian objects or civilians, hospitals and other medical facilities, health workers and children are also subject to special protections during armed conflict. 

Additionally, many of the medical facilities targeted were on a “deconfliction” list the UN previously shared with Russian, Turkish and US-led Coalition forces in Syria to highlight which sites must not be attacked.

Staggering displacement and dire conditions 

The latest onslaught on Idlib forced close to a million people – more than 80% of them women and children – to flee towards areas close to the Turkish border between December 2019 and March 2020. 

A woman who has three children and whose family was displaced twice in the past eight months told Amnesty International: “My daughter, who’s in first grade, is always afraid… She asked me [after we were displaced]: Why doesn’t God kill us?… Nowhere is safe for us.’”

My daughter, who’s in first grade, is always afraid… She asked me [after we were displaced]: ‘Why doesn’t God kill us?… Nowhere is safe for us.’ 

A Woman Who Has Three Children and Whose Family Was Displaced Twice in the Past Eight Months

Cornered in an ever-shrinking space, these civilians continue to suffer intolerable living conditions amid a massively overstretched humanitarian response. Timely and sustained aid is needed more than ever.

Vital aid lifeline under threat

In July 2014, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution authorizing cross-border aid into north-west Syria and other parts of the country held by armed opposition groups, without requiring the consent of the Syrian government. The resolution has been repeatedly extended since then – although with extreme difficulty in recent years and a reduction of scope in January 2020. It is due to expire on 10 July. 

Syria and its allies are seeking to end this arrangement and channel aid through Damascus instead, which would make it very difficult for the UN and its humanitarian partners to deliver timely and sustained aid. The government has regularly sought to restrict aid operations through bureaucratic requirements. It has also “blacklisted” and persecuted aid workers associated with opposition-held areas. Armed groups like Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham have also hampered humanitarian organizations from doing their jobs effectively.  

“UN officials have already called Idlib a humanitarian ‘horror story’ – this will only worsen unless the Security Council sees beyond political ploys and sustains the precious lifeline of cross-border humanitarian aid,” said Heba Morayef.

© 2020 Amnesty International

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Top

India News Brief

15 August 2020

COVID-19 Cases: 2,461,190 Death Toll: 48,040

COVID-19 At a Glance 

The new guidelines issued by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on 30 June: Schools, colleges, educational institutions, cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars, auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places, and even metro services will continue to remain shut until further notice.

COVID-19: Highlights 

Religious Places Visit: No Touching of Deity, No no Sparkling of Holy Water No Prasada in Temples Wearing Mask Thermal Screening is a must 

Shopping Malls Visit: Elderly People With 65 Years of Age and Children Below 10 Years Are Advised to Stay at Home.

Restaurant and food courts in malls to operate at 50 per cent seating capacity with a mandatory distance of six feet between tables. No common prayer mats, physical offerings like prasad, or sprinkling of holy water, in places of worship. Age and health-based restrictions on stepping out of home. Masks to be mandatory, and the Aarogya Setu app 'recommended' for all.

Use of masks, thermal screening, social distancing and sanitisation, the guidelines  require people above 65 years of age, specially  people with comorbidities, pregnant woman, and children below the age of 10 years, to stay at home. Masks are mandatory at all times, including inside restaurants

Standard Operating Procedures issued by the Indian Health Ministry 

  • International air travel, Metro rail services not allowed 

Cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars and auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places; and, social/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious functions/ and other large congregations will not allowed..

According to MHA guidelines, in Phase II, schools, colleges, educational/ training/ coaching institutions etc., will be opened after consultations with States and Union Territories.

There shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods. No separate permission or approval or e-permit will be required for such movement

But  states have the freedom to decide on public movement.

How to identify Fake News or Messeges on Social Media 

Beware of Fake News and Fake Messages on Social Media

Always follow websites or social media platforms of traditional media outlets whether newspapers, magazines,Television News Channels or Radio Stations and authentic online only media outlets.They still maintain journalism excellence and stress on reportorial talent.On the other hand, fake news websites run by people with non journalism background and promote their own ideology with fake news and disinformations and obviously conspiracy theories.

But unfortunately mainstream media also manipulates news to establish their story angle.There were various instances when News papers and TV Channels promoted fake news/conspiracy theories in the form of out of context or manipulated pictures/videos and distorted informations.

Always check the URL of any website.Some fake news websites look like the orginal and popular one the same layout,Logo but if you check the URL you may find extra words like if the orginal website's URL is www.xxx.com the duplicate one might be www.xxx.com.co or something like that so first check the URL for authentic informations.

Check whether photos are original or photoshopped.Check Google images for authenticity.You can find help from Google Reverse Images search.

Check the news sources from other websites whether they picked up the story or not.

Whether the website layout is little bit clumsy and obviously grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes and excessive use of Sex related and sensational and hate stories.Because sex and hate sells.

Follow official websites relating to COVID-19

WHO Clarifies the disinformation about the virus:
COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates
Cold Weather and Snow can not kill the new coronavirus
Taking a Hot Bath Does Not Prevent COVID-19
COVID-19 Can not be transmitted through mosquito bites

Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth)

According to World Health Organization (WHO): Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth . If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.

If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition

Follow WHO guidelines

www.who.int

When you follow COVID-19 related news and messages from social media then check and recheck it before consuming it.Follow journalism mantra: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Most of the messages or informations quote different organizations like WHO, UNICEF, UNDP,Cambridge University  or other well known institutes,organizations or individual to authenticate the messeges.Check official websites of these organizations  if stories are repeated there

Forwarding messages from unknown sources or little known sources, it would be better to ignore it.

Check whether any logo like UNICEF or WHO or other organizations used in the messages which look similar to original logo.

These type of messages are full of Grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes which are quite uncommon in original messages.

Don't rely on viral social media messages such as Coronavirus Infected Indian Currencies of Rs.500 and Rs.2,000 Notes Found, Muslim Man Spit in Food At Indian Restaurant.....Always Check Authentic Sources.

Some fake messages pretend to be real one like unofficial Twitter handle of international media organizations like BBC,CNN,Washinton Post, New York Times-check the official Twitter handles of media outlets.

You can identify fake messages if the message requests you to share it.

Beware of Fake News or Fake Photos/Videos Relating to Communal Hatred

Always check the fact checking sites if you have some doubts about the authenticity of any information or picture.

www.boomlive.in

www.altnews.in

https://check4spam.com

https://smhoaxslayer.com

www.factchecker.in

www.allsides.com

www.factcheck.org

www.newsbusters.org

www.politifact.com

www.snopes.com

www.propublica.org

The Same Method Applies to You Tube Videos Check the Source the credibility of the Source.To Check Fake You Tube Videos Check and Recheck the sources. Does the person have the legal right to the video posted? Did that person capture the video? Whether it has been altered?

But due to advancement of technology we can not really wipe out fake news.According to experts advent of  Artificial Intelligence(AI) some companies small or big one developing  technologies that can  lay digitally created script to anybody's voice  even words,sentences never said by the person.Even they are developing a technology which can create fake video footage,images,audios like originals.So be cautious! Rumour-mongers are active everywhere whether in physical world or cyber world.

For any further information relating to fake news and how-to search authentic informations from the internet write to us info@crimeandmoreworld.com or Whats App:+919073399779

COVID-19 Related Conspiracy Theories:
https://fsi.stanford.edu/news/china-covid19

 

 

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