UN commissioner condemns attacks on displaced Syrians in Sarmada

GENEVA, May 6 (KUNA) — The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has “unreservedly” condemned Thursday’s bombing of two camps for displaced people in Sarmada, close to the border with Turkey in north-western Syria.
“Given these tent settlements have been in these locations for several weeks, and can be clearly viewed from the air, it is extremely unlikely that these murderous attacks were an accident. It is far more likely they were deliberate and amount to a war crime”, he added in a press release from his office in Geneva on Friday.
“According to early reports by first responders, around 30 civilians, including children, were killed in the attack, and dozens of other civilians were injured, and many tents were completely destroyed,” he said.
“My staff, along with other organizations, will leave no stone unturned in their efforts to research and record evidence of what appears to be a particularly despicable and calculated crime against an extremely vulnerable group of people, most of whom were forced to flee their homes in Aleppo in February because of earlier sustained aerial attacks there. Initial reports suggest the attacks were carried out by Syrian Government aircraft, but this remains to be verified,'” the commissioner added.
“It is hard to find any more words to describe the horror facing civilians in Syria: bombed and slaughtered in their homes, shot in the streets and tortured in prisons; bombed in their hospital beds; bombed in the camps they flee to; facing immense difficulties crossing borders to escape the horror that has engulfed their country for five long years; and finally – if they somehow manage to get there – facing rejection and xenophobia in Europe.” Al Hussein said that he is also “alarmed about developments in Hama Central Prison where a riot took place on 1 May after the authorities reportedly tried to extract five detainees and take them to the notorious Sidnaya prison where they were allegedly going to be executed.” “Detainees took control of a section of the prison and are holding some guards hostage, and the authorities have cut off water and electricity supplies. Heavily armed security forces are surrounding the prison and we fear that a possibly lethal assault is imminent. Hundreds of lives are at stake, and I call on the authorities to resort to mediation, or other alternatives to force,” he warned.
He urged “all governments with influence in Syria to intervene to stop these types of attacks and other human rights violations and abuses committed by the warring parties.” The commissioner also urged those governments on the UN Security Council that have consistently blocked the referral of Syria to the International Criminal Court, “to live up to the responsibilities that come with membership of the Council. They should refer Syria to the ICC, so that there is a clear path to punishment for those who commit crimes like these.” (end) tm.ams.msa

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