Headlines: humanitarian situation in Syria

The Syrian Civil War continues to impact the lives of civilians and drive the refugee crisis in the region. The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria has proposed a freeze in fighting to end the killing and focus on fighting ISIL.

According to the most recent reports from the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR), over three million Syrian citizens have fled the country.  Even this number is a rough estimate, as thousands more have yet to register for aid.

Additionally, further information from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) reveals that a major attack on the Al Hayat Primary School in eastern Damascus, occurring only days ago Nov. 7, killed eleven children, only adding to the grim total of 105 Syrian children killed in the first nine months of 2014 alone.  Whether through the eyes of refugees or citizens, the huge numbers of atrocities and human rights violations have only continued to pile up since the Syrian Civil War’s beginning in 2011.

What started as a conflict between the government and small groups of rebels has evolved into a battle based on indiscriminate killings, with civilian deaths towering into the thousands.

While images abound throughout the media of chemical weapons being used, many of the arms that the Syrian government uses in their attempts to take rebel-controlled areas are far cruder and, according to the BBC, wreak even more damage.  Barrel bombs, oil barrels packed with shrapnel and explosives that are rolled out of helicopters, are often the weapon of choice and a particularly striking symbol of how even valued trade items are repurposed in times of war.  Air strikes are a common intimidation tactic in larger cities like Damascus and Aleppo, and they maximize death tolls even at the cost of killing those who never chose to fight.

Though Syria does not participate in certain areas of United Nations activity, charges of war crimes are already being pushed by the Human Rights Watch (HRW), which demands accountability for those responsible.

The refugee problem is also intensifying as all of Syria’s bordering countries have either placed quotas on refugee immigration or closed their borders altogether, according to the HRW.  Many end up being deported back into their home country’s turmoil with nowhere to flee or stranded in remote desert locations where humanitarian groups cannot reach them.

In desperation to find someplace that will offer them shelter, over 3,000 refugees have died at sea on their way to Europe.

Over 75 percent of refugees are women and children, leaving them even more vulnerable due to their inequitable treatment in society.

The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, proposes an approach to these heinous acts centered on a sort of strange hope for Aleppo.  Though Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) military forces continue to push on in this city, fighting between the government and the rebellion itself is at a stalemate. Oct 30, he revealed to the UN Security Council that with Aleppo at its current situation, it is now possible to attempt to freeze fighting in that region for enough time to provide humanitarian aid to those citizens still in dire need of it.

Freezing the conflict between the two sides could lead to a more long-term look at the newly emerging ISIS threat and further pave the way towards potential peace for this war-torn country.

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