GENEVA / SYRIA COI

11-Sep-2019 00:03:00
As the people of north-west Syria face intensifying violence, tens of thousands of women and children continue to be kept in “inhumane conditions” in a remote camp on the other side of the country, UN-appointed investigators said today. UNTV CH
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STORY: GENEVA / SYRIA COI
TRT: 3:01
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 11 SEPTEMBER 2019, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
SHOTLIST
1. Wide shot, exterior, Palais des Nations, Geneva
2. Med shot, journalists and podium, Room III
3. Close up, printed report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Paulo Pinheiro, Chairperson, Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic:
“Up to 70,000 individuals remain interned in deplorable and inhumane conditions at Al Hol camp, the vast majority of whom are women and children under the age of 12.”
5. Close up, journalists
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Paulo Pinheiro, Chairperson, Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic:
“The children from 12 to 18 – they are children and adolescents - and we think that it’s very strange; and of course do you know where those kids are? We don’t know; perhaps you could ask the Member States where those guys are and are considered terrorists if they have more than 12 years old. The Commission finds this completely appalling.”
7. Medi shot, journalist looking down at laptop in foreground, TV cameras behind
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Karen Abuzayd, Member of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic:
“Those who are in charge of these camps have limited resources as well; I mean they’re put in places where there’s not good people in charge or people who are really interested in the future of these children or anybody else in these camps, women as well.”
9. Med shot, photographers
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Paulo Pinheiro, Chairperson, Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic:
“There is a shared responsibility of several Member States about the state of the camp. I think it would be unfair to blame those who are holding those people there.”
11. Med shot, journalists
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Paulo Pinheiro, Chairperson, Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic:
“Terrorists attacked military positions of pro-government forces and indiscriminately launched rockets towards Government-held areas, killing and maiming dozens of civilians in the countryside of Aleppo, Hama and elsewhere.”
13. Med shot, journalists, photographers, podium
14. SOUNDBITE (English) Paulo Pinheiro, Chairperson, Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic:
“Aerial and ground offensives by pro-Government forces to oust those militants and affiliated armed groups from Idlib, northern Hama, Latakia and western Aleppo escalated dramatically, destroying infrastructure essential to the survival of the civilian population, forcing almost half a million civilians to flee.”
15. Med shot, journalists
16. SOUNDBITE (English) Paulo Pinheiro, Chairperson, Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic:
“Hostilities also included the large-scale operations by the US-led international coalition and the Syrian Democratic Forces causing widespread destruction of towns and villages in Deir ez Zor.”
17. Various shots, press briefing room
STORYLINE
As the people of north-west Syria face intensifying violence, tens of thousands of women and children continue to be kept in “inhumane conditions” in a remote camp on the other side of the country, UN-appointed investigators said on Wednesday (11 Sep).

Describing the situation at Al Hol camp as “appalling”, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria called on the international community to take action.

Most of the 3,500 children held there lack birth registration documents, the Commission said in its latest report on the conflict.

Panel chairperson of the Commission Paulo Pinheiro explained that they risk being left stateless because Member States appear unwilling to repatriate them, fearing extremist links.

Pinheiro said, “up to 70,000 individuals remain interned in deplorable and inhumane conditions at Al Hol camp, the vast majority of whom are women and children under the age of 12.”

Making an impassioned appeal on their behalf, he added, “the children from 12 to 18 – they are children and adolescents - and we think that it’s very strange…do you know where those kids are? We don’t know; perhaps you could ask the Member States where those guys are and are considered terrorists if they have more than 12 years old. The Commission finds this completely appalling.”

According to the Commission’s report, the humanitarian response to needs at Al Hol “remains woefully inadequate”, with hundreds of preventable deaths recorded.

At least 390 children have died from malnutrition or untreated infected wounds, the investigators said.

In addition, much-needed psychological support is only provided on a limited basis to Yazidi women and children, who fled ISIL massacres in neighbouring Iraq in 2014.

A significant number of those interned at Al-Hol camp also include tens of thousands of people who fled the bombardment of Baghouz town - an ISIL stronghold in eastern Syria - straining the already severely overstretched humanitarian resources.

Echoing Pinheiro’s appeal for international assistance, panel member Karen Abuzayd insisted that it was not a case of blaming one side or another.

She said, “those who are in charge of these camps have limited resources as well,” adding that “I mean they’re put in places where there’s not good people in charge or people who are really interested in the future of these children or anybody else in these camps, women as well.”

Highlighting the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which explicitly calls on States to protect children and register them immediately after birth, Pinheiro maintained that there was a “shared responsibility of several Member States about the state of the camp. I think it would be unfair to blame those who are holding those people there.”

Updating journalists on the conflict elsewhere in the country – particularly in Idlib, the last opposition-held bastion and Deir Ez Zor in the east, Pinheiro insisted that civilians continue to bear the brunt of hostilities.

Well over eight years of war have now displaced 13 million people, according to the Commission of Inquiry report, amid violence involving Government-backed forces, Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS) opposition fighters and the US-led international coalition, as well as Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

In Idlib, Pinheiro said, “(HTS) terrorists attacked military positions of pro-government forces and indiscriminately launched rockets towards Government-held areas”, adding that “killing and maiming dozens of civilians in the countryside of Aleppo, Hama and elsewhere.”

This was despite an agreement between Russia and Turkey in September 2018 to establish a demilitarized zone in Idlib, he noted.

In an effort to oust HTS fighters, “aerial and ground offensives by pro-Government forces to oust those militants and affiliated armed groups from Idlib, northern Hama, Latakia and western Aleppo escalated dramatically” in February, Pinheiro added, “destroying infrastructure essential to the survival of the civilian population, forcing almost half a million civilians to flee.”

According to the Commission’s report, this destroyed infrastructure “essential to the survival of the civilian population, including hospitals, markets, educational facilities and agricultural resources, and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee.”

The Commission’s 21-page report also highlights hostilities in the east that included the “large-scale operations” by the US-led international coalition and the Syrian Democratic Forces causing “near complete destruction of widespread destruction” of towns and villages in and around Hajin and Baghuz in Deir ez Zor, Pinheiro noted.

In areas reclaimed by the Government - such as Dar’a in the south and Duma near Damascus - civilians, including recent returnees, have been arbitrarily arrested and detained, the report maintains. Hundreds of thousands of civilians in both locations also lack adequate access to water, electricity and education, the report adds.
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