UN says parties to Syrian conflict prevented access to areas affected by earthquake

Parties to the Syrian conflict prevented access to areas affected by the Feb. 5 earthquakes, the UN Syria Commission of Inquiry said on Monday.

In the months leading up to the region's devastating earthquakes, parties to the conflict in Syria "widely violated and abused human rights," continuing a 10-year pattern of disregard for the safety of Syrian citizens, the commission said in a briefing in Geneva, where they launched their latest report on the country’s crisis.

"In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, it took the Syrian Government a full week to consent to life-saving cross-border aid access," the commission of three stressed.

The Syrian regime and opposition "both impeded cross-line aid to affected communities, while (al-Qaeda-linked) Hayat Tahrir al Sham in northwestern Syria refused cross-line aid from Damascus," according to the commission.

"Though there were many acts of heroism amid the suffering, we also witnessed a wholesale failure by the government and the international community, including the United Nations, to rapidly direct life-saving support to Syrians in the most dire need," said Paulo Pinheiro, chair of the commission.

"Syrians now need a comprehensive ceasefire that is fully respected, for civilians - including aid workers - to be safe. Incomprehensibly, due to the cruelty and cynicism of parties to the conflict, we are now investigating fresh attacks even in the very areas devastated by the earthquakes," Pinheiro said.

Commissioner Hanny Megally, for his part, said they are currently investigating several allegations of parties to the conflict deliberately obstructing humanitarian aid to the affected communities, and added: "As aid is now finally increasing, it is more important than ever that they consent to impartial humanitarian relief being delivered unimpeded to those in need, whether through cross-border or cross-line modalities."

Regarding the restricted rights of women and girls by the armed groups in the earthquake-affected areas, Lynn Welchman, the commissioner of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said they have regularly restricted the rights of women and girls.

"Today, most of those without shelter in these areas are girls and women, many of them heading households, and the scaling up of aid must consider the gendered impact of the crisis," Welchman added.

PKK terror group's Syria extension holds 56,000 people 'unlawfully'

According to the report, the SDF -- PKK terror group's extension in northern Syria -- "continues to unlawfully hold 56,000 people, mainly women and children, with suspected family links to Da’esh fighters in Al-Hawl and Roj camps, where conditions continue to deteriorate."

"The Commission has reasonable grounds to believe that the suffering inflicted on them may amount to the war crime of committing outrages on personal dignity, and calls for repatriations to speed up," it added.

The commission's report, written prior to the devastating quakes, gives a rundown of the wrongdoings against people in Syria. On March 21, it will deliver its findings to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.?

In its almost 40-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US, and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.

The Feb. 6 earthquakes, centered in the Turkish province of Kahramanmaras, affected more than 13 million people across 11 provinces, including Hatay, Adana, Gaziantep, Diyarbakir, Adiyaman, Malatya, Kilis, Osmaniye, Elazig, and Sanliurfa.

Several countries in the region, including Syria and Lebanon, also felt the strong tremors that struck Türkiye in fewer than 10 hours.

Source: Anadolu Agency