09/15/2021, 09.13
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UN: Syria 'unsafe' for returning refugee

A document published by a UN panel of experts speaks of worsening violence and human rights violations. Government forces responsible for arbitrary detentions and abuses, even in areas controlled by rebels and extremist groups. A decade after the beginning of the conflict, the parties "continue to perpetrate war crimes". 



Damascus (AsiaNews/Agencies) - More than 10 years after the beginning of the bloody civil conflict, Syria is still largely an "unsafe" place for the return of refugees states a UN war crimes panel. The group of experts released a report yesterday documenting the worsening violence and human rights violations. Government forces, says the report, would be responsible for arbitrary detentions and abuses, as already denounced last week by activists of Amnesty International. 

The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria says that the general situation in the country is increasingly bleak, in several areas hostilities are mounting and the economy is collapsing. There is also no shortage of environmental problems such as the drying up of river beds, which adds up to the escalation of attacks by Islamic State (IS, formerly Isis) militiamen.

"One decade in, the parties to the conflict continue to perpetrate war crimes and crimes against humanity and infringing the basic human rights of Syrians," the Chair of the Commission, Paulo Pinheiro said, releasing its 24th report. "The war on Syrian civilians continues, and it is difficult for them to find security or safe haven in this war-torn country."

Among the crimes perpetrated and unsolved by government forces there are also cases of arbitrary  and "incommunicado" detention, an isolation that prevents any contact with the outside world. There are also incidents (not isolated) of torture and sexual violence during detention, as well as deaths in custody and enforced disappearances.

The war, which stemmed from an uprising in March 2011 against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, triggered the world's worst refugee crisis. Neighboring nations and those in the Middle East region host 5.6 million refugees, while European countries take in more than a million. In some states they are under pressure to return.

Commissioner Hanny Megally said there has recently been a "return of sieges and siege tactics" in southwestern Syria, an area where Russian-backed government forces have conducted a campaign to eliminate a pocket of rebel resistance in the city of Daraa. The report also denounces an increase in hostilities in the northwest with markets, residential areas and medical facilities the target of attacks that are often "indiscriminate, with numerous civilian casualties." The report also criticizes the Islamic extremist group that controls Idlib, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, for imposing restrictions on the media and freedom of expression, with arbitrary detentions of journalists and activists, including women.

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