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Syrians tell world leaders: Stop blaming the victim, protect civilians

Two dozen civil and humanitarian organisations called on the US, UK and France to end the bloodshed in Syria
Syrian families line-up waiting to go back to Syria, on 8 February 2016 at the Turkish Oncupinar border gate near Kilis, southern-central Turkey (AFP)

Twenty-four Syrian civil organisations and humanitarian aid groups called on US Secretary John Kerry, UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and the former French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in a letter to undertake more action to protect civilians within Syria.

“Every month, more than 600 civilians are killed by indiscriminate air strikes by either Russia or the Syrian regime,” the letter stated, which was delivered ahead of the International Syrian Support Group meeting in Munich.

“Every week, more than one million Syrians live under siege, with the denial of food, water and medical care being used as a weapon of war. Every day, more innocent civilians are detained, imprisoned and tortured.

“Our people are being annihilated.”

A report published by the Syrian Centre for Policy Research (SCPR) on Thursday said that almost half a million people have been killed over the past five years in Syria.

The figure, around 470,000, is almost double what the United Nations cited. According to the report, around 11.5 percent of the population have been either killed or injured.

The letter by the Syrian civil and humanitarian organisations outlined three main concrete steps for the officials to embark on to stop the bloodshed, stressing that the deliverance of aid alone is not a substitute for the required steps.

The organisations called for the breaking of sieges across Syria by airdropping aid, emphasising that 1.1 million people in 46 areas in the country suffer from lack of food, water and basic health care.

Furthermore, they pressed for the enforcement of Security Council resolution 2254 to protect civilians from “indiscriminate bombing”, noting that aerial bombardment remains the number one killer in Syria.

Lastly, the organisations stressed that, by having the “legal mandate and moral responsibility”, the USA, UK and France should pressure President Bashar al-Assad’s government to release political detainees who were arbitrarily arrested, and to hold Assad responsible for “war crimes”.

The organisations expressed their dismay at how some members of the international community have resorted to "blaming the victims", and consider the appeals by Syrians to be "nothing more than whining".

“We, as members of civil society, cannot in good conscience confine ourselves to humanitarian appeals, when the very survival of our people is in question,” the letter concluded.

“Today, we ask you to stand with the Syrian people and do what it takes to save our Syria.”

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