Last week Amnesty investigators briefed me on the latest developments in that violence-wracked nation.
To say things are dire is an understatement.
Our research team reports that:
Government forces have bombed entire neighborhoods, indiscriminately blowing up civilians. Recent attacks with long-range surface-to-surface missiles have targeted residential areas, killing entire families. Investigators in one case found only the severed arm of a child in the rubble — all that remained of one family.
In Aleppo, a seemingly endless procession of murdered men and boys — bound and shot in the head — is pulled from the river nearly every day.
While government forces continue to be overwhelmingly responsible for the death and suffering of civilians, armed opposition groups have escalated their abuses. Researchers in Damascus have identified a mass grave, filled with the bodies of children and others accused of helping the government. Local residents call it “the hole of death.”
More than 2 million Syrians have been displaced inside their own country. They face the threat of a second round of bombing in the new places where they have taken shelter.
Amnesty’s team is working on the ground, at enormous personal risk, to document and report these abuses. We cannot allow the world to avert its eyes from this human catastrophe.
At the global level, we are pressing countries in the European Union to make good on promises to provide emergency refugee assistance, and reminding Syria’s neighbors of their obligations to help refugees under international law. We continue to pressure governments and the United Nations Security Council to hold those responsible for slaughtering civilians accountable.
With every passing hour of indecision by the international community, the death toll in Syria rises. You have to ask, how many more civilians must die before the world takes action?
Advocacy Director, Middle East North Africa
Amnesty International USA