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Red Cross: Syria aid hampered by disregard for rules of war

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) [official website] said Monday that aid in Syria is being hampered by a disregard for the rules of war [press release]. Head of operations for the Near and Middle East Robert Mardini said that in spite of repeated calls for all parties to the conflict in Syria to respect the rules of war, humanitarian response is still being hampered by security constraints and undermined by excessive bureaucratic and military controls. The ICRC estimates [UPI report] that during the Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] 4 million people have been displaced and more than 1.2 million have fled to other countries. Citing a lack of political solutions and an ever-widening gap between the needs of Syrians and the humanitarian response on the ground, the ICRC is appealing to its donors for 62.3 million Swiss francs (USD $65.2 million) in additional funding to step up its response until the end of the year for vulnerable people suffering the effects of the conflict and its neighboring countries.

The Syrian Civil War has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [BBC profile], and the increasingly bloody nature of the conflict has put pressure on the international community to intervene. In response to a series of massacres carried out against civilians earlier this week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called upon the international community [JURIST report] to find a solution to the conflict in Syria and ensure that those responsible for human rights violations are held accountable. Last month Assad issued a decree reducing prison terms [JURIST report] for a number of rebel prisoners, but the move was dismissed as a "meaningless gesture" by activists. Also in April Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] accused the Syrian Air Force of deliberately targeting civilians [JURIST report] in air strikes in opposition-controlled areas. In March HRW accused Syria's military of using widely-banned cluster munitions [JURIST report] against civilians. In February the UN said that both the Syrian government and the anti-government rebels are committing war crimes [JURIST report]. Earlier that month Pillay reported that the death toll after two years [JURIST report] of armed conflict approached 70,000.

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