“We live in constant fear of whether we will live or die. I want the rockets to stop. I want to go back to my home and live peacefully.”--Manal*, a mother of two from Hama.
As war in Syria enters its fifth year, civilians continue to suffer from the extreme violence, much of it directly targeting civilians. Since 2012, CIVIC has talked with civilians living in Syria, as well as with Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon about their experiences and what post-harm assistance they need to rebuild and recover.
CIVIC interviewed Syrians of varied backgrounds, including leaders of the political and armed opposition, Syrian army defectors, UN staff, local and international NGO staff, government and military officials, lawmakers, diplomats, doctors and nurses, journalists, civil society activists, and religious leaders. Many of them raised concerns about the dangers posed by unexploded ordnance and the need to plan for assistance to civilians who have been harmed. CIVIC then brought these concerns, and practical measures for addressing them, to senior Syrian opposition officials and policymakers.
We have also spoken extensively with the armed opposition about civilian protection, and the policies its leadership maintains to minimize harm to the population.
CIVIC’s published materials include recommendations to nations offering technical and material assistance to the Syrian opposition, the issue brief Civilian Protection in Syria analyzing the civilian protection mindset of the armed opposition, and a second brief describing what Syrians told us about the harm they suffered and types of assistance they need. CIVIC also convened an expert roundtable to consider the impact of foreign military involvement in Syria on civilians.
Since US-led operations began in 2014 against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, we have engaged with the US government to ensure that policies are in place to minimize civilian harm and to track, investigate and make amends. We are also working to ensure that any training for the Syrian armed opposition incorporate scenario-based measures to minimize civilian harm.
Photo by Nicole Tung