The Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic released by the Human Rights Council on 31 January 2019, welcomes the demilitarization agreement between Turkey and the Russian Federation to establish a demilitarized zone in the north-west of Syria, which led to a significant decrease in armed conflict in the period from mid July 2018 to mid-January 2019, but expresses concern over the impact of hostilities on civilians. The report stresses that the situation of hundreds of thousands of Syrian women, men, and children remains precarious, not only in places of conflict. It issues a series of practical recommendations aimed at addressing the complex issue of return and lays out conditions which must be met before civilians can return to Syria
In addition to outlining the geographical spread of the conflict and corresponding humanitarian impact in terms of violence faced by civilians, the report also addresses the recent legal developments in Syria. Specific mention is given to the law issued by the Government in October 2018, granting general amnesty to any army deserters and individuals who evaded conscription without official exemption. This is seen as an attempt to encourage refugees to return.
The report emphasizes the disproportionate burden the conflict has had on women, in particular, IDPs in Rukban, as they have faced harrowing forms of gender-based violence. It concludes by recommending that the report's findings illustrate the need for a rights-based approach that ensures sustainable solutions, as the current situation through the country prevents the safe return of refugees and IDPs.
The EuroMed Feminist Initiative is alarmed by the findings of the report and will continue to support the Syrian CSOs and activists who advocate for a democratic transition in Syria that is inclusive of a feminist perspective. Moreover, EuroMed Feminist Initiative through its current multi-county projects will continue improving the livelihood, agency and legal and social protection for Syrian women refugees in three main host communities Lebanon, Iraq / KR-I and Jordan.
The EuroMed Feminist Initiative supports independent and transparent reporting in times of conflict and commends the Commission for its work.