Home Investigative Reports 5 Syrian Organizations Submit a Complaint to UN Bodies Regarding Internally Displaced People in Syria

5 Syrian Organizations Submit a Complaint to UN Bodies Regarding Internally Displaced People in Syria

Findings indicate that Syrian authorities created the conditions for displacement and failed to protect civilians during displacement

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From 16 to 19 May 2015, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons visited the Syrian Arab Republic. His report (No. A/HRC/32/35/Add.2) on the visit was presented before the Human Rights Council at its thirty-second session. The report mainly highlights that the Syrian authorities not only failed to protect civilians from or during displacement “but their deliberate targeting of non-combatants has also been the main cause for their massive displacement.”[1] The Special Rapporteur asserted that “while many have fled the conflict and the indiscriminate bombardments or ground attacks, others left due to fear of violence or remain in locations that may fall under different areas of control or shifting front lines. Some have moved in search of or to reunite with family members or owing to economic and social deterioration. Poverty has left many needing to seek employment, better living conditions or more readily available food and fuel, for example in locations where humanitarian assistance is more easily accessible.”[2] The report also indicated that one of the most critical difficulties facing the internally displaced is the loss of their identity papers, which causes them to lose many related rights such as work, education, and freedom of movement. In addition, the right to obtain official documents faces many barriers, including the unstable situation and the fear of IDPs living in areas outside the government’s control of appearing before official government departments to issue new documents instead of the lost ones. This is made more difficult because the security forces view those coming from the opposition-controlled areas with suspicion.[3]

The report concluded with recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur to the Syrian government. The recommendations include that the government urgently should establish a legal and policy framework to protect internally displaced persons following the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.[4] The government should also make long-term solutions to residence, land, and property issues. Such solutions should address compensation and property recovery issues following international standards.[5] The government should guarantee freedom of movement and ensure that internally displaced persons can reach safe places, especially those existing between areas that are under the control of different forces, without arbitrarily arresting those who have lost their identification papers or who are of military age, and without discrimination based on ethnic, religious, or origin.[6] In addition, basic humanitarian aid and medical supplies should be provided for everyone who needs them without unjustified restrictions on moving supplies to the population in affected areas or areas controlled by non-state actors.[7] The education of internally displaced children should be protected, and all necessary measures should be taken to provide adequate and safe educational facilities.[8]

While the total number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in various regions of the Syrian Arab Republic reached 6.7 million, the organizations participating in this general allegation letter claim that the Syrian Arab Republic has not complied with its negative and positive international obligations to respect, protect, and fulfil the rights of IDPs, especially in areas outside government control. As the number of IDPs continues to increase, they are deprived of their fundamental rights such as the right to access food, safe water, adequate housing, education, physical and mental health, and property, as well as their right to protection from direct or indiscriminate targeting as civilians not participating in hostilities. They are also deprived of the right to freedom from arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance, which necessarily deprives them of their right to return safely and dignifiedly to their areas of origin.


To read the report in full as a PDF, follow this link.


[1] UNGA, ‘Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons on His Mission to the Syrian Arab Republic’ (2016) A/HRC/32/35/Add.2 para 15.

[2] ibid 13.

[3] ibid 32–34.

[4] ibid 84.

[5] ibid 90.

[6] ibid 94–95.

[7] ibid 96, 100.

[8] ibid 99.

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