CARE welcomes the announcement of cessation of hostilities in Aleppo and the evacuation of civilians. However we are concerned by reports of delays to the evacuation which was scheduled to begin at 3am GMT this morning, and are receiving reports of resumed shelling in the area.
Unfortunately, it’s too little too late for the estimated 500 civilians have been killed in Aleppo since mid-November. It is unacceptable that such a pause has been called only after such an appalling level of atrocities, while earlier international efforts were blocked by Russia in the UN Security Council. Civilians must be permitted a free choice as to whether or not to flee fighting, and do not lose their civilian status should they choose to stay in their homes and with their families.
The entire world has witnessed the tragedy of the inhabitants of Aleppo, and stood by. We are unable to forget the despair of people sending desperate pleas to be saved in recent days. We can’t accept their sending goodbye messages because of the unwillingness of the international community to step in and stop this massacre.
CARE is concerned for the safety and respect for the rights of civilians, both those remaining in Aleppo and those who have fled. They must be provided safe passage, yet there are well evidenced reports of arrest, detention, executions and disappearances of civilians. CARE calls for the deployment of independent monitors to ensure the safety and security of Aleppo’s civilians.
The UN has already recognized the failure of the international community to protect civilians in Aleppo, expressed by many Member States in a special session of the Security Council yesterday. Once again, the World’s cries of ‘Never Again’ have proved to be hollow. CARE welcomes the French proposition to suspend the use of the veto right in case of mass crimes. We call upon the general assembly to study the proposal carefully. One or two countries should not be able to stop any action to prevent mass murder.
CARE calls for a desperately needed cessation of hostilities not only for Aleppo, but throughout Syria, to both allow humanitarian access and medical evacuation in out of areas, including besieged areas which still contain many hundreds of thousands of people. We additionally call for increased diplomatic pressure to negotiate a political solution to end the war that has gone on far too long with far too many people killed and displaced.
We can’t continue to let the Syrian population fear for their future. Syrian humanitarians ask our team ‘Aleppo today… which city tomorrow?’ Many are afraid of suffering the same fate as the inhabitants of Aleppo who have been massacred by the bombs or those in Daraya who were forcibly evacuated from their city. All they want is to live in peace at home.
All these atrocities must stop NOW! Those guilty of war crimes, and potentially crimes against humanity, must be held accountable.
Holly Frew, Emergency Communications Manager, CARE USA, email@example.com, +1 770 842 6188
Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE has more than six decades of experience helping people prepare for disasters, providing lifesaving assistance when a crisis hits, and helping communities recover after the emergency has passed. CARE places special focus on women and children, who are often disproportionately affected by disasters. To learn more, visit www.care.org.