Procedure : 2015/2559(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-0137/2015

Texts tabled :

B8-0137/2015

Debates :

Votes :

PV 12/02/2015 - 4.6
CRE 12/02/2015 - 4.6
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2015)0040

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
PDF 142kWORD 74k
See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0136/2015
9.2.2015
PE549.930v01-00
 
B8-0137/2015

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure


on the humanitarian crisis in Iraq and Syria, in particular in the IS context (2015/2559(RSP))


Marietje Schaake, Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Ivo Vajgl, Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea, Louis Michel, Pavel Telička, Petr Ježek, Ivan Jakovčić, Gérard Deprez, Javier Nart, Hilde Vautmans, Petras Auštrevičius, Martina Dlabajová, Fredrick Federley, Marielle de Sarnez, Maite Pagazaurtundúa Ruiz, Dita Charanzová, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica on behalf of the ALDE Group

B8‑0137/2015 European Parliament resolution on the humanitarian crisis in Iraq and Syria, in particular in the IS context (2015/2559(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–       having regard to its previous resolutions on Iraq and Syria,

–       having regard to the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on Iraq and Syria, in particular those of 15 December 2014,

–       having regard to the European Council conclusions on Iraq and Syria of 30 August 2014,

–       having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on Iraq and Syria,

–       having regard to UN Security Council resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014) and 2170 (2014) and UN Human Rights Council resolution S-22/1,

–       having regard to the UN Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic entitled ‘Rule of Terror: Living under ISIS in Syria’, of 14 November 2014,

–       having regard to the Concluding observations on the combined second to fourth periodic reports of Iraq, published by the Committee on the Rights of the Child on 4 February 2015,

–       having regard to the statements by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on Iraq and Syria,

–       having regard to the NATO Summit Declaration of 5 September 2014,

–       having regard to the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief, adopted on 24 June 2013,

–       having regard to the conclusions of the Paris conference on security in Iraq of 15 September 2014,

–       having regard to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Iraq, of the other, and to its legislative resolution of 17 January 2013 on that partnership(1),

–       having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.     whereas the ongoing violent crisis in Syria as a result of government and terrorist violence has resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe of an unprecedented scale in history, with more than 200 000 people killed, most of them civilians, more than 7.6 million people internally displaced, and more than 12.2 million Syrians in desperate need of assistance inside Syria; whereas more than 3.8 million Syrians have fled their country, mainly to Lebanon (1 160 468 refugees), Turkey (1 623 839), Jordan (621 773), Iraq (235 563) and Egypt / North Africa (160 772);

B.     whereas the humanitarian situation in Iraq caused by the ongoing conflict and the violence and repression by the terrorist organisation Islamic State (IS) continues to deteriorate, and whereas more than 5.2 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance and more than 2.1 million Iraqis are internally displaced; whereas there are 3.6 million people living in areas controlled by IS, 2.2 million of whom are in urgent need of aid, and whereas these people are particularly difficult to reach;

C.     whereas many refugees and internally displaced people are not registered, which disenfranchises unregistered populations from much-needed humanitarian aid and basic protection measures;

D.     whereas the terrorist organisation IS has conquered parts of north-western Iraq using brutal and indiscriminate violence, including Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, and whereas this was followed by summary executions of Iraqi citizens, the imposition of a harsh interpretation of sharia law, the destruction of Shiite, Sufi, Sunni, Yazidi, Kurdish and Christian places of worship and shrines, and barbaric atrocities against the civilian population, which have a particular impact on women and children;

E.     whereas former military personnel of the Iraqi army have joined IS, and whereas the army itself is plagued by corruption, which is hampering an effective response to IS on its part;

F.     whereas years of repression and identity politics have fuelled the ethnic tensions and violence which are currently being unleashed, leading to gross violations of international humanitarian law by parties to the conflict, with Iraqis of all ethnicities and religious creeds suffering as a result;

G.     whereas the terrorist organisation IS is illegitimate and has established unlawful so‑called ‘sharia courts’ in the territory under its control, which have been carrying out cruel and inhuman punishments against men, women and children; whereas IS has published a penal code listing crimes punishable by barbaric and medieval forms of violence such as amputation, stoning and crucifixion;

H.     whereas IS has launched systematic campaigns of ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq and Syria, carrying out war crimes, including mass summary killings and abductions, against ethnic and religious minorities; whereas the UN has already reported on the targeted killing, forced conversion, abduction, rape, smuggling and kidnapping of women, the slavery of women and children, the recruitment of children for suicide bombings, and sexual and physical abuse and torture; whereas Christian, Kurdish, Yazidi, Turkmen, Shabak, Kaka’i, Sabean and Shia communities, as well as many Arabs and Sunni Muslims, have been targeted by IS;

I.      whereas apostates and LGBT minorities have been targeted and subjected to inhumane violence;

J.      whereas retaliatory attacks by Shia militias have targeted Sunni Arab populations, with these militias carrying out kidnappings, summary executions, torture, and mass displacements of thousands of families with impunity, as documented by Human Rights Watch;

K.     whereas the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has stated that almost 50 % of all Syrians have lost their homes and 40 % of the refugees are forced to endure sub-standard living conditions; whereas, according to the UN, three out of four Syrians live in poverty and the unemployment rate is over 50 %; whereas two thirds of the Syrian refugees in Jordan are living below the poverty line and 55 % of the refugees in Lebanon live in sub-standard shelters; whereas violence and discrimination against refugees has risen in the host countries;

L.     whereas a severe winter is sweeping across the Middle East and the UNHCR has stepped up its winter assistance, launching a USD 206 million winter plan to help millions of vulnerable people in the region; whereas, despite the efforts made, many refugees are forced to live in unfinished buildings and inadequate shelters that expose them to sub-zero temperatures, heavy snow and strong winds; whereas approximately 740 000 internally displaced Iraqis are sheltering in sub-standard housing, and the UNHCR is taking steps to provide 600 000 of the displaced persons with winter support in Iraq;

M.    whereas UNICEF is delivering winter assistance in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey to 916 000 of the 1.3 million targeted children; whereas UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) launched a winter cash assistance campaign in January 2015 to provide 41 000 vulnerable refugee children in the Za’atari and Azraq camps with 14 Jordanian dinars to allow their family to buy them winter clothes;

N.     whereas the report of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child published on 4 February 2015 states that children are being used as human shields and suicide bombers and are being tortured and sold as slaves; whereas several cases of mass executions of boys, beheadings, crucifixions and living burials are also reported;

O.     whereas when temperatures rise, the risk of epidemics associated with dire sanitation conditions and limited access to safe drinking water, particularly in communal and informal settlements, increases;

P.     whereas on 1 December 2014 the WFP was forced to suspend a critical food aid scheme for more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees because of an international funding crisis; whereas the WFP raised USD 88 million after an urgent appeal and could provide food assistance to the refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey; whereas the WFP estimates that 2.8 million people in Iraq currently need food assistance; whereas the WFP alone required USD 214.5 million, as a matter of urgency, for its operations in Syria and the region, of which USD 112.6 million was needed to meet food assistance needs for the next four months;

Q.     whereas according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), wheat production in IS-controlled territory has dropped significantly as a result of being hit by the conflict, poor rainfall and fuel shortages;

R.     whereas the parties to the conflict have used humanitarian suffering as a weapon of war and have stolen and illicitly traded aid products, thereby violating the Geneva Conventions;

S.     whereas HRW estimated in November 2014 that more than 3 133 Yazidis, including children, had been kidnapped and/or killed by IS since its attacks of early August 2014; whereas more than 50 000 Yazidis are displaced and 300 of those abducted, mostly women and children, have managed to escape IS captivity; whereas Yazidi women are suffering systematic sexual violence and enslavement; whereas according to recent reports women have committed suicide after being raped or forced to marry IS militants; whereas men too have committed suicide after being forced to watch their wives and daughters being raped;

T.     whereas much-needed specific psychological help for victims of the conflict, including rape victims, is not available;

U.     whereas integrated sexual and reproductive health / sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) services are clearly lacking;

V.     whereas most child refugees and displaced children do not have access to education;

W.    whereas according to the Commission, approximately 276 000 refugees have tried to enter the EU illegally, the majority of whom undertook the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean; whereas according to international organisations nearly 2 % of the refugees drowned during the journey; whereas criminal organisations are transporting refugees in ‘ghost boats’ hurtling on autopilot towards the EU;

X.     whereas on 9 December 2014 a Resettlement Conference was held in Geneva, at which governments pledged to take in 100 000 Syrian refugees; whereas according to the UNHCR the contributions will still be insufficient with regard to the resettlement needs in the region;

Y.     whereas more than EUR 3.3 billion has been mobilised by the EU and its Member States for relief and recovery assistance to Syrians in their country and to the refugees and their host countries; whereas in 2014 alone, the EU and its Member States were the second-largest humanitarian donor to Iraq, providing EUR 163 million; whereas the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism was activated at the request of the Iraqi Government;

Z.     whereas the EU has spent more than it envisaged to address humanitarian needs, and whereas funds pledged by several non-EU countries have not always actually been transferred;

AA.  whereas, despite the various appeals, the international community is failing to meet the needs of Syrians and Iraqis and of the countries harbouring refugees; whereas according to Kyung-wha Kang, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, UN operations are suffering from a lack of funding, with just 39 % of the required USD 2.3 billion having been received; whereas the UNHCR has stated that it remains very difficult to operate within the areas to provide civilians and refugees with the aid they need;

AB.  whereas access to and delivery of relief aid to those still in areas of conflict and at risk in several parts of Iraq remains a critical priority;

AC.  whereas the international community is to provide a proportional response to military efforts, aimed at mitigating the suffering of civilians trapped by the conflict;

AD.  whereas engagement with all parties to the conflict with a view to facilitating unfettered, principled humanitarian access to all affected areas and to internally displaced persons, refugees and conflict-affected communities in hard-to-reach areas is needed;

AE.   whereas UN agencies operating humanitarian programmes are to ensure a more integrated and cost-efficient response to the needs of all populations of concern;

AF.   whereas justice and reconciliation will be needed as an element of post-conflict measures and as a step towards building inclusive, representative and democratic governance;

1.      Strongly condemns the gruesome, systematic and widespread human rights abuses and violations committed by the Assad regime and by the terrorists of IS in Iraq and Syria, including the killing of hostages, all forms of violence against people on the basis of their religious and ethnic affiliation, and violence against women and LGBTI people; deplores the establishment of unlawful so-called ‘sharia courts’ in the territory under IS control; recalls its absolute condemnation of torture; expresses its deep sympathy to the victims of the atrocities committed by IS and calls for the immediate release of all hostages; strongly condemns IS abuses against children;

2.      Stresses that the ongoing war in Syria and the recent threat posed by IS constitute a serious danger to the people of Iraq and Syria, and to the broader Middle East; calls for the EU to present a comprehensive regional strategy for defeating IS and to contribute to joint efforts to mitigate the humanitarian crisis and end the conflict in Syria and Iraq; recalls that a cohesive response is needed in order to coordinate all aspects of engagement and to support host countries, including with military, humanitarian, development and macro-economic assistance;

3.      Supports the global campaign against IS, and welcomes the commitment of the coalition partners to working together under a common, multifaceted, long-term strategy to defeat IS; stresses that assistance to enable the countries of the region to fight violent extremism, together with instruments to counter terrorism financing, should be part of this strategy;

4.      Finds the refugees’ humanitarian situation alarming, and calls on the international community to provide an immediate, clear and effective humanitarian response to the crisis and to recognise the soaring increase in humanitarian needs and the international community’s increasing difficulty in providing funds to help;

5.      Emphasises the interlinkage between conflict and humanitarian suffering and radicalisation;

6.      Stresses the centrality of protection of civilians within its comprehensive regional strategy, and the need to keep separate humanitarian and military / counter-terrorism efforts;

7.      Calls on the international community to redouble its efforts as regards humanitarian assistance; calls for the EU to consider initiating the convening of a donor conference and to put pressure on all donors to fulfil their promises and deliver on their pledges swiftly; welcomes the commitments made by Member States of the EU, as the biggest donor of financial aid and pledges for the future ; calls for an increase in the EU’s contributions to the UN’s humanitarian programmes and for the EU to strengthen its cooperation with international organisations;

8.      Stresses that, in view of the unprecedented scale of the crisis, alleviating the suffering of millions of Syrians and Iraqis in need of shelter, food and medicine must be a priority for the EU and the international community at large;

9.      Condemns the consistent thwarting of attempts to deliver humanitarian aid and calls on all parties involved in the conflict to respect universal human rights and international humanitarian law, and in particular on IS and the Assad regime to facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid and assistance through all possible channels, including across borders and conflict lines, and to ensure the integrity of civilian structures and the safety of all medical personnel and humanitarian workers, in line with the various UN Security Council resolutions on the subject;

10.    Is convinced that immediate humanitarian assistance and protection needs to be an integral part of long-term strategies to end the conflict and to support the socio‑economic rights and livelihood opportunities of returnees, internally displaced persons and refugees, including women, so as to ensure enhanced leadership and participation, with a view to empowering them to choose durable solutions that suit their needs; considers that there is a need to address the specific risks faced by and the particular needs of different groups of women and children who are subjected to multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination;

11.    Calls on the Commission and the EU Member States to adopt immediately specific actions to address the situation of women and girls in Iraq and Syria and to guarantee their freedom and respect for their most fundamental rights, and to adopt measures to prevent exploitation, abuse and violence against women and children, in particular the forced marriage of girls; is particularly concerned about the increase in all forms of violence against women, who are being imprisoned, raped, sexually abused and sold by members of IS;

12.    Calls for the creation of a budget line and programmes to comprehensively address the medical/psychological and social needs of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) survivors in the ongoing conflict;

13.    Urges a renewed focus on access to education, tailored to the specific needs generated by the ongoing conflict;

14.    Calls on the international humanitarian agencies working in Iraq and Syria, including UN agencies, to increase the provision of medical and counselling services, including psychological treatment and support, for displaced people who have fled the IS advances, paying special attention to the needs of the most vulnerable populations, i.e. survivors of sexual violence and children;

15.    Calls on the EU Member States to comply with their international obligations to accept and process asylum applications from the increasing number of Syrian refugees who are risking their lives to reach Europe; calls on the EU to prevent deadly journeys across the Mediterranean, in particular by targeting smugglers and human traffickers; calls for the EU to strengthen its external border control;

16.    Points out that instability in Syria, caused primarily by the Assad regime’s brutal war against its own people, has allowed IS to flourish; expresses its concern at the increasing involvement of extremist Islamist groups and foreign fighters in the conflict in Syria, the rise of violence in the country and the continued fragmentation and internal divisions within the moderate opposition; states that a lasting solution requires, as a matter of urgency, a political transition through a Syrian-led, inclusive political process with the backing of the international community; calls for the EU to take the initiative for diplomatic efforts to that end;

17.   Calls on the new Iraqi leadership to act on its commitment to an inclusive government – one that represents the legitimate interests and addresses the dire humanitarian needs of all Iraqis;

18.    Supports the request from the Human Rights Council to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to dispatch a mission to Iraq, as a matter of urgency, to investigate violations and abuses of international human rights law committed by IS and associated terrorist groups, and to establish the facts and circumstances of such abuses and violations, with a view to preventing impunity and ensuring full accountability;

19.    Calls for the establishment of mechanisms to document testimony by victims, with the goal of trying perpetrators before international courts or local war crimes tribunals;

20.    Requests equal accountability measures for all parties to the conflict, and access to legal support for all victims of the ubiquitous violations; takes the view that it is of paramount importance to ensure the protection of civilians who are trapped by violence and are unable to access places of safety or who cannot access life-saving humanitarian assistance;

21.    Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government and Council of Representatives of Iraq, the Regional Government of Kurdistan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the United Nations Human Rights Council and all the parties involved in the conflict in Syria.

(1)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0023.

Legal notice