A Weekly Update from the UN Department of Public Information No. 100/ 24 June 2015

Syrians face “unspeakable suffering,” says UN official
The Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria released on 23 June its latest report on the human rights situation in the country, covering the period from 15 March to 15 June. Presenting the report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Chair of the Commission, Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, said that the conflict in Syria had mutated into a multi-sided and highly fluid war of attrition and civilians remain the main victims of an ever-accelerating cycle of violence, which is causing “unspeakable suffering.”

Mr. Pinheiro added that with its superior fire power and control of the skies, the Government inflicted the most damage in its indiscriminate attacks on civilians, and non-state armed groups continued to cause civilian deaths and injuries. The Chairman of the Commission also deplored that “the continuing war represents a profound failure of diplomacy and the absence of action by the international community had nourished a deeply entrenched culture of impunity.”

More funding needed for Palestine refugees in Lebanon
On 22 June, UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Sigrid Kaag, called for increased donor assistance to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to meet the needs of Palestine refugees in Lebanon. Ms. Kaag was speaking during a visit to the Palestinian refugee camp of Burj El-Barajneh, south of Beirut. “Residents of the camp are facing enormous difficulties every day; all possible efforts should be made to give greater support to Palestine refugees here,” she said. Ms. Kaag also met with the camp’s youth and popular committees who briefed her on the situation in the camp, including problems of healthcare, poverty, unemployment and housing. The Burj El-Barajneb camp hosts over 40,000 residents, including 22,000 Palestine refugees from Lebanon and 8,000 Palestine refugees from Syria. While welcoming the calm that has been maintained in the camp since the start of the crisis in Syria, the Special Coordinator encouraged further cooperation between the Palestinian and Lebanese authorities to ensure that this stability continues to prevail.

Secretary-General calls for international solidarity to assist refugees
In a message to mark the World Refugee Day on 20 June, the Secretary-General called on governments and societies around the world to recommit to providing refuge and safety to those who have lost everything to conflict or persecution. “The ongoing conflict in Syria, as well as crises in Iraq, Ukraine, South Sudan, Central African Republic, north-eastern Nigeria and parts of Pakistan, have led to a staggering growth and acceleration of global forced displacement,” he said. The Secretary-General stressed that with 86 per cent of all refugees living in the developing world and with the humanitarian response system increasingly overstretched, international solidarity and burden-sharing are crucial in meeting the needs of displaced communities, as well as their hosts. “On this World Refugee Day, let us recall our common humanity, celebrate tolerance and diversity and open our hearts to refugees everywhere.” According to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), Syria is the world’s biggest producer of both internally displaced people (7.6 million) and refugees (3.88 million at the end of 2014).

UN expert urges the Security Council to act now to prevent “industrial scale” human rights violations by ISIL
UN human rights expert Ben Emmerson called on the Security Council to take action to enforce international law and protect civilians in areas under the control of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group. During the presentation of his report to the Human Rights Council on 22 June, the expert said that in areas under ISIL control people live in daily fear for their lives, and human rights violations are “being committed on an industrial scale and amount to an affront to the conscience of the entire international community.” Mr. Emmerson noted that so far, the Security Council has only determined that ISIL represents a threat to international peace and security and it has stressed the need to bring perpetrators to justice. “But the Council has conspicuously failed to either authorise military action under Chapter 7 of the Charter, or to refer the situation in Iraq and Syria to the International Criminal Court,” he said. In his report, the Special Rapporteur describes how different entities have found clear evidence of persecution and summary execution of religious and ethnic minority communities on a mass scale, arbitrary execution of community leaders, journalists, intellectuals and others, mass disappearances, forced religious conversions and systematic torture.

UN Radio in Arabic

Damascus has accused an international commission of covering up the role of Saudi Arabia in the conflict, and Riyadh says that the Syrian regime is the sponsor of terrorism

Syrian Ambassador in Geneva refuted allegations that his government is targeting civilians

Pinheiro: Continuation of war in Syria is a catastrophic failure of diplomacy

Zainab Bangura, a voice for women affected by the Syrian conflict

De Mistura condemns attacks against civilians as he ends his visit to Syria

UN Twitter (@UN):

Syria: Human Rights Council investigation shows people’s daily life & death decisions, @UN_Radio reports: http://ow.ly/OGH4S #HRC29
23 June

You can stand with the people of Syria during the month of #Ramadan. Help here: http://bit.ly/1IX0BZ0
21 June

Turkey is now the world’s biggest refugee-receiving country – see this new @refugees video on #WorldRefugeeDay https://youtube/eFTp3m0Kjy8
20 June

Ongoing social media campaigns:

#4Syria campaign was launched on 20 March 2015 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to highlight the Syrian conflict, which has entered its fifth year. The campaign calls for an end to the conflict and seeks to raise funds for UNRWA’s programmes to support Palestinian refugees from Syria. It features testimonies of Palestine refugees; voices that, amid the tragedy, brim with positive energy and determination, as well as documents highlighting UNRWA’s emergency work in the region. View the campaign at: http://www.unrwa.org/syria-crisis/syria4thanniversary

#SaveYarmouk was launched in January 2015 to shed light on the grave deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Yarmouk, following the escalation of fighting. The campaign includes stories and updates from Yarmouk as well as recorded voices of residents describing the horrible conditions in which they are living. With no access to regular food supplies, clean water, health care, electricity or heating fuel, Yarmouk’s civilian population is on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. For those who wish to support UNRWA’s work in Syria, donation is possible through the campaign’s website: http://www.unrwa.org/crisis-in-yarmouk.

UNICEF and its partners are committed to keeping Syrian children from becoming a ‘lost generation’. Critical efforts are being made to minimize the impact of the crisis on children – including in the life-saving areas of health, nutrition, immunization, water and sanitation, as well as in the future of children, through education and child protection.

Relevant links to UN Secretariat, Agencies, Funds and Programmes on Syria
DPI Focus Page on Syria:

UN System agencies:
UN Women: http://www.unwomen.org/
UNICEF: http://www.unicef.org/media/index.html
WFP: http://www.wfp.org/countries/syria
OCHA: http:/unocha.org/syria , twitter.com/ocha_syria , facebook.com/UNOCHA.Syria
WHO: http://www.who.int/countries/syr/en/
UNHCR: http://www.unhcr.org/pages/4f86c2426.html
OHCHR: http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/NewsSearch.aspx?CID=SY
UNRWA: http://www.unrwa.org/

UN on social media:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/UN
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/un_photo/
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/unitednations
Tumblr: http://united-nations.tumblr.com/

Photo galleries:
UNHCR: http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c25d.html
UNRWA: http://www.unrwa.org/photogallery.php
OCHA: http://www.unocha.org/media-resources/photo-gallery
UNICEF: http://www.unicef.org/photography/photo_2013.php#UNI82253
IRIN: http://www.irinnews.org/photo/