FDFA statement on military escalation in Syria
Bern, 28.02.2020 - The FDFA is very concerned about the military escalation in north-western Syria and the serious impact this is having on the civilian population. It calls on all parties to the conflict to comply strictly with international law, in particular international humanitarian law, and to return to the negotiating table with a view to implementing an immediate ceasefire. Switzerland raised its concerns with the UN Human Rights Council on 27 February 2020.
The FDFA is very concerned about the military escalation in north-western Syria (province of Idlib and Aleppo countryside). According to the UN at least 134 civilians, including 44 children, have been killed and 11 healthcare facilities and 15 schools have been targeted since the start of February. Switzerland calls on all parties to the conflict to comply strictly with international law, in particular international humanitarian law, by protecting the population and civic infrastructure and by taking all feasible precautionary measures. It is also essential to secure the Idlib de-escalation zone agreed by Iran, Russia and Turkey.
The continuing military offensive has displaced large numbers of people and aggravated the immediate and long-term humanitarian consequences. The UN also claims that since the start of the latest offensive in December 2019 close to a million people have been displaced in north-western Syria. They are now living in desperate conditions in sub-zero temperatures. The FDFA therefore urges all parties to the conflict to facilitate rapid, unrestricted, sustained access for humanitarian actors to provide assistance and protection to those in need, including across borders, which is one of the key ways that aid is delivered.
Together with Austria, Liechtenstein and Slovenia, Switzerland presented a joint statement setting out its concerns to the UN Human Rights Council on 27 February 2020. Switzerland has consistently called on the countries militarily involved in Syria to cease hostilities, guarantee humanitarian access and work towards a political solution. To this end, Switzerland will also raise its concerns over the current situation with Iran, Russia and Turkey.
Only a political solution can put an end to the suffering of the Syrian people and lead to a lasting peace that guarantees the rights of all Syrians. It is essential that all parties return to the negotiating table as part of a peace process led by the UN in Geneva and actively supported by Switzerland.
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