ALERT – Launch of our new report: “The Waiting List” | September 18, 2019
Two years after “Everywhere the bombing followed us”, Humanity & Inclusion – Handicap International introduces its new report! In this report, once again, HI reaffirms that the scope of devastation observed in Syria demonstrates that the use of explosive weapons in populated areas must not become acceptable. Norms against its use must be upheld at […]
Two years after “Everywhere the bombing followed us”, Humanity & Inclusion – Handicap International introduces its new report!
In this report, once again, HI reaffirms that the scope of devastation observed in Syria demonstrates that the use of explosive weapons in populated areas must not become acceptable. Norms against its use must be upheld at international level. The report also shows the complexity of planning and implementing an effective response for survivors, the families of those killed or injured and affected communities in the context of EWIPA.
The Waiting List exposes Syria’s fractured reality
Since the inception of the conflict in 2011, the use of EWIPA has been a constant pattern of violence in Syria, taking a heavy toll on civilians. Syria’s fractured context – marked by a widespread use of EWIPA, heavy contamination by explosive remnants of war (ERW), and acute challenges for principled humanitarian access, including protection of humanitarian workers – demonstrates the urgency of addressing comprehensively the needs of victims of explosive weapons. Almost 12 million people throughout Syria need humanitarian assistance, but constraints for humanitarian access have been a constant feature of the Syria emergency response, hindering continuity of services and impacting the provision of assistance to victims affected by explosive weapons.
The Syrian health system has been decimated by the use of explosive in populated areas, it now struggles to cope with the alarming number of EWIPA-related victims. The complex array of injuries created by this pattern of harm can lead to long-term impairment, especially when the person injured cannot access adequate emergency health care and rehabilitation services. Unmet needs for rehabilitation services are bound to increase exponentially. It is also estimated that over half of all Syrians are in need of mental health and/or psychosocial support. The psychological and psychosocial impact of being exposed to this violence, especially for the most vulnerable such as children, cannot be underestimated and will put additional pressure on already-scarce mental health resources.
In addition to endangering the lives of Syrians, the use of EWIPA is dramatically impacting their livelihoods. In Syria, 50% of basic infrastructure has been estimated to be destroyed or non-functional. 40% of Syria’s educational infrastructure is currently damaged, destroyed, and/or contaminated with explosive weapons. This major socioeconomic crisis will hinder recovery for generations to come, and the impact of the educational loss will be felt by Syrian children, sometimes referred to as the “lost generation.”
Towards an international political declaration on explosive weapons
Since 2014, a core group of States, international organisations and civil society organisations have been involved in an international discussion to enhance the protection of civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA), recognizing the distinctive patterns of harm witnessed in many conflicts around the globe. It has resulted in an increasing consensus on the need for a political declaration to further regulate the use of these weapons. In 2019, the process entered a pivotal period of negotiations, which should lead to a formal adoption of a political declaration in 2020. In this key moment, States and other stakeholders cannot miss the opportunity to ensure that victims have access to adequate assistance. This report is meant as a contribution to this political process.
Acknowledging the tremendous impact of the use of explosive weapons on the lives of survivors, the families of those killed or injured and affected communities, HI has identified key recommendations for the warring parties and the international community, on victim assistance including:
- emergency and continuing health care;
- physical rehabilitation;
- psychological and psychosocial support;
- socioeconomic inclusion, including education;
- data collection;
- and laws, regulations, and policies.
HI is calling on all States to support the development of a strong political declaration to end the harm caused by the use of explosive weapons with strong provisions for victim assistance.
Since 2015, HI has launched an international public campaign. The petition “Stop bombing civilians” gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures, and media attention. To say “Stop bombing civilians”, visit the website: http://stop-bombing-civilians.org/
– the report in English / in French
– the executive summary in English / in French / in Spanish
– the testimony of Farah in English / in French / in Spanish
– the types of injuries caused by explosive weapons in English / in French / in Spanish