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SYRIA: PATTERNS OF DISPLACEMENT CONTINUE TO BE MASSIVE

27 September 2013

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Chaloka Beyani, urged the international community not to lose sight of the plight of millions forced into mass displacement by gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Syria committed by all parties to the armed conflict.

“In Syria, there are now 6.8 million people in need of protection and assistance, of whom 3.1 million are children, and the number of refugees seeking safety in neighbouring countries has now reached two million,” Mr. Beyani said during his presentation to the UN Human Rights Council on the current situation of IDPs in Syria.

“Amongst the most vulnerable of these populations, are the estimated 4.25 million persons displaced within the country who are largely unprotected and without adequate shelter and humanitarian assistance will be at even greater risk with the coming of winter in the next few months,” he warned.

“Patterns of displacement continue to be massive,” the expert noted. “I am deeply concerned that entire families have been displaced multiple times due to the geographic expansion of the conflict and the shifting of frontlines,” he added, noting that most IDPs flee their homes without the opportunity to take any personal effects or documentation.

The Special Rapporteur warned that multiple displacements further increase the vulnerability of people, and in particular of children and the elderly, and expressed his deep concerns over the continuous exposure of IDPs to grave violence and insecurity. “IDPs as part of the civilian population in Syria must be spared. The parties to the conflict must take all feasible precaution to minimize any harm to civilians” Mr. Beyani urges.

“I am concerned about restrictions on entry imposed by neighbouring countries on people fleeing Syria,” Mr. Beyani said. “IDPs have the right to seek asylum in other countries, and I appeal to these countries to continue to respect the institution of asylum and apply the principle of non-refoulement without any discrimination”.

“The humanitarian imperative to provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance must continue to prevail - including through strengthened international coordination and action by the humanitarian community,” the expert stressed. “At the same time, we must remind all the parties to the conflict of their responsibility to allow humanitarian access to the humanitarian community. I commend the significant efforts by the United Nations and its partners to reach and assist IDPs and those hosting them”, Mr. Beyani added.

The Special Rapporteur noted with concern that essential sectors, such as shelter and livelihoods, for example, remain underfunded, and that other factors, including lack of humanitarian access, continue to impede efforts to improve protection and food security. “I urge the international community and donors to maintain their commitment and to develop innovative strategies to address these challenges, including by allowing for funding transfer from non-humanitarian budgets,” he said.

“However, humanitarian assistance alone cannot bring about a solution to the crisis,” Mr. Beyani underscored. “We must continue to try to find, as a matter of absolute priority - for the sake of Syria, of all those affected by the conflict, for present and future generations - a peaceful solution for Syria, with the full participation of all segments of the Syrian society, including internally displaced persons, founded on respect for international law.”

“Prospects for building peace and stability in Syria must begin with stabilising the population of Syria itself by providing unbridled protection and assistance to internally displaced persons, working to re-establish the normality of political and social economic circumstances that are conducive to promoting early recovery and the attainment of durable solutions for internally displaced persons,” the expert concluded.

(*) Check the full report by the Special Rapporteur: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/IDPersons/A_67_931Syria_report.pdf or
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IDPersons/Pages/IDPersonsIndex.aspx

Chaloka Beyani, professor of international law at the London School of Economics, was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons by the Human Rights Council in September 2010. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity Lear more, visit: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/idp/index.htm

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Syria: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/SYIndex.aspx

Check the Kampala Convention: http://www.unhcr.org/4ae9bede9.html

For more information and media requests, please contact Marta Franco Parra (+41 22 917 9268 / mfranco@ohchr.org) or write to idp@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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For use of the information media; not an official record

HR13/257E