Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America,
as delivered by Jason Mack

Human Rights Council 36th Session
Geneva, September 18, 2017

Mr. Vice President,

We continue to strongly support the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry and welcome its critical work investigating egregious human rights violations and abuses, as well as violations of international humanitarian law, of which the Syrian government remains the primary perpetrator.

We call attention to the Commission’s thorough documentation of the use of siege warfare, which it notes affects more than 600,000 civilians currently, and its documentation of attacks against medical and humanitarian aid personnel.

The Commission reports that government and pro-government forces use besiegement, evacuations, and hollow promises of reconciliation to “engineer” demographic changes.  Tragically, following truces negotiated with besieged areas, pro-government forces made medical workers, local council members, relief workers, activists, and families of fighters evacuate.  Syrian government forces routinely denied humanitarian aid for wounded and sick civilians. Civilians who evacuated previously besieged areas said they “had no choice.”

The Commission noted the government continues to punish civilians by attacking medical facilities and medical and humanitarian aid personnel.  We are appalled by these attacks.  The government launched at least 312 attacks against medical facilities since the conflict began, killing at least 826 medical personnel, according to Physicians for Human Rights.

The regime and pro-regime forces continue to obstruct humanitarian access to besieged and hard-to-reach areas, preventing life-saving assistance from reaching 80 per cent of the 540,000 people in dire need, according to the United Nations.  In June alone, medical supplies for 84,000 treatments were removed from approved convoys.  All those responsible for these actions should be held accountable.

Commissioners, which Syrian government officials are responsible for denying humanitarian assistance to the sick and injured civilians they are forcibly displacing?

Thank you.