The contagious protests fomented by the Arab Spring spread to Syria in March 2011. Syrians celebrated the overthrow of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt. Like other Arab peoples, Syrians also wanted to express their aspirations for change and to reclaim “liberty, justice and dignity” – the first watchwords of the Syrian revolution.
In February 2011 some young students wrote on the city walls of Daraa, Syria the slogan which they heard people shouting in all Arab streets: “The people want the fall of the regime”. The youngsters were arrested by security forces and tortured. After this act, in 15 March 2011 the demonstrations start in capital city Damascus and spread across the country by capillarity. Hundreds of thousands of peaceful demonstrators reclaimed democracy and called for an end to corruption. The forces of the regime responded systematically by firing at the crowds, killing and wounding. At the same time, young activists and civilians were arrested and disappeared in regime prisons. The repression was more violent each day, provoking new demonstrations and demands for reforms. The cycle of protest and repression continued for months.
IN NUMBERS – SYRIA SINCE MARCH 2011
According to the UN around 13.5 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria.
More than 50% of Syria’s population is currently displaced
One-in-every-two of those crossing the Mediterranean this year—half a million people—were Syrians escaping the conflict in their country
According to the Amnesty International since 2011, thousands of people have died in custody in Syria’s brutal detention centers. Tens of thousands more have experienced shocking torture.
17,000+ people killed in Syria’s prisons (minimum estimate)
65,000 people arrested by government security forces, now missing in unofficial detention centers according to Syrian Network for Human Rights
11 million + people forced from their homes
Assad uses chemical weapons and targets schools, hospitals and markets by bombs in addition to starving civilians
We urge world leaders to:
- Put Syrians at the front of all humanitarian efforts;
- Provide local actors with strategic support through long term, direct, and core funding plans and tailored capacity building;
- Adopt accountability statement on the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse at the individual agency level;
- Use the sky to drop food not weapons;
- An early warning system on besiegement should be set up and communities that are under threat of starvation should be flagged to the UN Security Council and trigger an immediate response (ex. Air drops);
- Uphold the full implementation of the international humanitarian law with no exception;
- Establish a transparent and public mechanism to solve and end all cases of forced disappearance, based on the extensive data collected by the international commission of inquiry on Syria;
- Receive Syrians refugees by legal and safe routes established by embassies.
- Give refugees official documents (ID, passports);
- Release all the detainees from Assad’s prisons;
- Support women human rights defenders (GA 2015) and activists;
- Break siege and protect women and children;
- Support education process for Syrians specially for women and girls;
- Seize the use of chemical weapons and respect its obligations under the Geneva Protocol of 1925 and ban the use of chemical and biological weapons falling within the scope of prohibited materials under the Protocol;
- Take immediate measures to ensure that neither there own nor affiliated forces use indiscriminate weapons, including barrel, cluster, and vacuum bombs;
- Take immediate measures to ensure that neither its own nor affiliated forces conduct indiscriminate attacks that may result in the disproportionate loss of civilian lives, in particular on densely populated areas and civilian facilities;
- Implement all relevant Security Council resolutions, particularly those relating to humanitarian aid;
- Immediately lift the blockade on all besieged areas and facilitate the movement of humanitarian aid and assistance without restrictions, and in particular to the areas most affected by the conflict;
- Demine areas within Syria, particularly liberated areas from ISIS;
- Survivors of gender-based violence must receive appropriate care when and where they seek it. This means that UN and humanitarian organizations must ensure multiple safe entry points for survivors, where survivors can disclose incidents of violence and receive support or immediate referrals. These entry points should be available where women and girls can go without being questioned or stigmatized, for example, schools, health clinics, women’s centers, distribution sites and via mobile services.
- Women and girls should have safe and accessible access to individual registration, in both camp and urban settings.
- Women and girls’ voices must be a key force in driving humanitarian action. UN agencies, host and donor governments and NGOs must seek out and value the perspectives of women and girls, who account for more than 50% of the refugee population. This value is demonstrated by acting on what women and girls identify as priorities and designing programs to that end.
- Women and girls must be safe from gender-based violence (GBV) as they seek refuge. The UN should commission a regional Real Time Evaluation to assess the application of minimum standards as laid out in the Interagency Guidelines for the Prevention and Response to GBV. This Real Time Evaluation would apply to cross-border work in northern Syria as well as in camps and urban areas in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.
- Women and girls should be able to freely access necessary aid such as health care and safe shelter. With strong and strategic partnerships between INGOs, local NGOs, host governments and the women and girls they serve, women and girls can live their lives with security and dignity.
Catch up on the 2016 Sister-to-Sister Mentorship program to learn more about Muzna.