The Syrian civil war has grown to be one of the worst humanitarian crises of the 21st century. The initial fighting was detrimental, and the use of chemical weapons has made citizens suffer more than anyone. In this Amnesty Report, we will focus on the region of Eastern Ghuota on the outskirts of the capital city, Damascus.
Between January and June of 2015, Syrian government forces killed at least 500 civilians in the region via at least 60 airstrikes. Ten of these strikes found no military target, showing the government forces’ intention of killing civilians. Many targets were public places full of civilians such as public markets, schools, and mosques. The attacks have destroyed multiple residential buildings, leaving families without a place to live and making them even more vulnerable to aerial strikes. The situation is bad enough with the airstrikes, but the Syrian government has also fired rockets, mortars, and unguided bombs into populated areas to maximize civilian casualties.
Not only must the civilians of Eastern Ghouta suffer from these bombings, but they must also survive in horrendous living conditions. The limited access to food, clean water, medical care, and essential supplies such as electricity has made their living conditions worse. Checkpoints into the region are controlled by either the government or the rebels, and humanitarian groups such as the United Nations have been denied access into the region. The Syrian American Medical Society reports, “more than 200 people have died from starvation or lack of access to adequate medical care in Eastern Ghouta between 21 October 2012 and 31 January 2015,” emphasizing the gravity of the situation.
However, the government forces are not the only ones contributing to the status quo. The rebel forces, who supposedly say that they are on the side of the civilians, have failed to protect the people and have denied access to aid through checkpoints. It is none other than the civilians themselves who suffer from the fighting that started with the inhumane treatment by al-Assad.
Despite the UN Security Council’s resolutions to alleviate the suffering of Syrian civilians, their impact was miniscule. Amnesty International calls for the Security Council to impose targeted sanctions against all belligerents responsible for the crimes against humanity and an arm embargo on the Syrian government. The organization also calls for the government and rebel forces to allow Amnesty International and other human rights monitors into Syria. The suffering that the civilians go through not only in Eastern Ghuota, but all over Syria is inhumane, and it must be stopped.