THE HAGUE, NL, 27 January 2024 – As the risk of an escalation across countries in the Middle East and South Asia has risen with the launch of multiple airstrikes in the region, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) reminds all armed actors – state and non-state – to abstain from taking actions that would further threaten civilian safety. CIVIC urges all parties to uphold their legal obligations to protect civilians regardless of their military and political objectives.
“Countries in the Middle East and South Asia are on the brink of a conflagration that could result in a significant loss of civilian lives,” warns Udo Jude Ilo, Interim Executive Director at CIVIC. “Recent airstrikes across the region have already cost the lives of civilians. We urge all actors to exercise maximum restraint and to abide by international humanitarian and human rights laws when conducting their operations.”
As the devastating conflict in Gaza will soon turn 4 months, the signs of a spillover across the region are already visible with airstrikes resulting in the reported killing of civilians in Erbil, Iraq, Pakistan, and Lebanon. As long as escalation continues, the risk of civilian harm remains high including in places like Syria and Yemen.
“A few days ago, I was reminded that we are not safe from airstrikes after a family was killed in the middle of our city. This made me realize that it could be easily any of us next time,” recounts one of our staff members in Erbil, Iraq. “I live in a country that is no longer considered a conflict zone, yet we are silently bombed almost every day with barely any international attention on what we are facing.”
“Yemen is on the verge of potential widespread conflict escalation not seen since 2015 if the tension in the Red Sea continues,” warns Dina El-Mamoun, CIVIC’s Country Director in Yemen. “There is a real risk to see a return of high-intensity war engulfing the entire country, causing death, destruction and jeopardizing chances of signing the peace agreement announced by the UN’s Special Envoy earlier this month.”
Civilians have borne the brunt of war and insecurity across the Middle East and South Asia for more than two decades while the region has yet to recover. The world is already facing the highest number of violent conflicts since the Second World War, and the last thing it needs is a new regional war across the Middle East and South Asia.
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