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7th anniversary of the Syrian conflict: After the death of partner organisation’s employee, HI condemns continuous bombings

Explosive weapons

A staff member from a Syrian organisation that Humanity and Inclusion (HI) partners with was killed yesterday. Mustafa, his wife and their two children – both under the age of 8 years old – were killed by shelling in Hamouriyeh, Eastern Ghouta. As today marks the 7th anniversary of the Syrian conflict, HI condemns once again bombing and shelling of populated areas and calls on all parties to the conflict to protect civilians.

“Syrian children check debris around a destroyed building in Kafar Batna in the Syrian rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta on March 1, 2018 following reported air strikes by Syrian government forces. ”.

“Syrian children check debris around a destroyed building in Kafar Batna in the Syrian rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta on March 1, 2018 following reported air strikes by Syrian government forces. ”. | © AFP PHOTO / AMER ALMOHIBANY

HI is deeply saddened by this loss of life. As today the Syrian crisis enters into its 8th year, with no end to the conflict in sight, HI deems it unacceptable that civilians in Syria, including humanitarian workers, continue to be targets and victims of the armed conflict. Massive bombing raids on Eastern Ghouta since the 18th of February, 2018 have killed more than 1,100+ people and destroyed countless civilian infrastructures, including hospitals and health centers. In parallel, bombing and shelling on central areas of Damascus has caused dozens of casualties. Over the last months, military offensives accompanied by heavy bombing raids and shelling have killed hundreds of civilians in Idlib governorate, Raqqa governorate and Afrin district.

Mustafa worked as a risk education team leader for over two years. “The risk education team were visiting communities on a daily basis until the bombardment of Eastern Ghouta intensified in February 2018. The escalation of violence prevented the team from doing their routine work. Many of the team were displaced from their own homes, as their towns became increasingly unsafe to stay in, and it became too dangerous to move around the enclave on a daily basis. HI calls on the parties to the conflict in Syria to immediately stop the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and to ensure better protection of humanitarian workers. Civilians like Mustafa and his colleagues have been, and will continue to be most effective and efficient way to respond to humanitarian needs in such terrible conditions”, says HI Advocacy Director Anne Héry.

In the countries affected by the Syrian crisis, HI teams witness the suffering and trauma of the Syrian population; victims of a conflict marked by the repeated heavy use of explosive weapons. According to a survey of the International NGO Safety Organization (INSO), 33,394 attacks involving explosive weapons took place in Syria in 2017, accounting for 70% of reported incidents. This represents an average of 91 attacks, in the form of bombing or shelling, every day.

A Canadian on the field

Based in Amman, Jordan, Shirin Kiani works as the Inclusion Coordinator for HI’s Syria response. With a background in occupational therapy and Public health, she works with field teams to ensure persons with disabilities and older persons access livelihood and recovery programming of mainstream NGOs working on the Syrian Crisis. She has worked for HI for 10 years in a variety of countries such as: Sri Lanka, Nepal, Haiti, Iraq, Laos and Canada. She specializes in the fields of disability, health systems strengthening, inclusive livelihoods and social inclusion. In Canada, actor Anthony Lemke acts as HI Canada’s spokesperson for questions related to explosive weapons.

1 million signatures

HI is relaunching it’s "Stop Bombing Civilians" campaign against the bombing of civilian populations. Bombing and shelling in populated areas, which have become commonplace in current conflicts in Iraq, Yemen and Syria, kill and wound 92% civilians. The association calls on the general public to sign an international online petition asking states to end the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. This petition which aims to collect 1 million signatures has already exceeded 390,000 signatures. It will be handed over to the United Nations and policy makers in September 2018.

About HI

HI, previously known as Handicap International, is an independent international association that has been working for 35 years in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. Working alongside people with disabilities and vulnerable people, HI acts and speaks out to meet their basic needs and improve their living conditions. HI is one of the six founding associations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), winner of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize and winner of the 2011 Conrad N. Hilton Award.

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