Suffering of civilians in Syria

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Sir, – The current assault on civilian areas in Eastern Ghouta, Idlib and elsewhere in Syria is yet another stark reminder that powerful countries are willing to brush aside international law, content that there will be no repercussions for doing so.

The suffering of civilians trapped in the middle of this war is unimaginable. Hospitals, schools, houses and even funerals have been targeted by airstrikes. For people trapped in Eastern Ghouta, nowhere is safe.

The deliberate targeting of civilians, be it through airstrikes or forced starvation, is entirely illegal under international law and utterly reprehensible. Yet these actions are being carried out, either tacitly or directly, by some of the most powerful countries on earth.

As well as killing civilians in large numbers today, this complete disregard for international law and the evident paralysis of the UN Security Council clears the path for the next atrocity.

The only way to stop this cycle is to ensure there are repercussions for states – including individual politicians and officials – who carry out these crimes, who arm those who do, or who provide political or diplomatic cover for them.

The growing culture of impunity threatens our international norms and systems. There is an urgent need to establish new mechanisms to document war crimes and hold the perpetrators to account. Deeply politicised, the UN Security Council has consistently failed the people of Syria.

Impunity must end. So too must the silence that surrounds these barbaric actions.

Our own Government must forcefully condemn the current attacks and use its influence to hold the perpetrators accountable.

Ireland must speak up and demand the strongest possible engagement by the EU on behalf of the Syrian people.

Continued inaction in the face of the murder of civilians on a daily basis means that we are all complicit in these horrors. – Yours, etc,

ÉAMONN MEEHAN,

Executive Director,

Trócaire;

CELINE FITZGERALD,

General Manager,

Goal;

DOMINIC MacSORLEY,

Chief Executive,

Concern Worldwide.

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