Syria: Evacuations of civilians must be humane
Damascus/Geneva (ICRC): In the event that humanitarian evacuations from Eastern Ghouta, Afrin, or any other area in Syria take place, the below standards and rules offer guidance to authorities in control of the process. Simply put, civilians and persons no longer taking a direct part in hostilities must be respected and protected at all times by all sides, including during evacuations.
The ICRC has not yet been contacted by the parties to the conflict regarding evacuations, and therefore we are not involved so far. We remain ready to work with the parties to ensure the below standards and rules are adhered to.
- Evacuees are informed in advance on the terms of the agreement, destination site, and evacuation process.
- Civilians can choose to stay or leave.
- Civilians are protected against attack in all circumstances, staying or leaving.
- Civilians being evacuated are granted safe passage.
- All measures are undertaken to safeguard family unity.
- Civilians, detainees and persons no longer directly participating in hostilities must be treated humanely and in accordance with international law, regardless of their status and religious, ethnic or political affiliation.
- Evacuees are not deprived of objects needed for their survival, nor impeded of their access to humanitarian aid and services, during and after the displacement.
- Evacuees are allowed to take and retain personal belongings in reasonable amounts that do not hamper the evacuation operation, notably valuables and property titles, ID-documents, electricity and water bills.
- Persons with special needs and vulnerabilities, such as the wounded and sick, unaccompanied and separated minors, the elderly and persons with disability, are afforded special protection and are cared for.
- At the destination site, displaced civilians benefit from freedom of movement, access to satisfactory conditions of shelter, hygiene, health, safety, nutrition, public and protection services, and livelihood opportunities.
- Humanitarian actors are granted access to the destination sites and are allowed to follow up on evacuees, to assess their needs after displacement and to deliver humanitarian aid and services.
- Evacuations should be temporary and displaced people have the right to return as soon as the reason for their displacement ceases to exist. They are provided with clear information on the prospect of return.
- The inviolability of personal property is guaranteed. The property and possessions left behind by evacuees are protected against pillage, destruction and illegal appropriation or use.
For more information, please contact:
Ingy Sedky, ICRC Damascus, +963 930 336 718
Ralph El Hage, ICRC Amman, tel: +962 7 7845 4382
Iolanda Jaquemet, ICRC Geneva, +41 79 447 37 26