Procedure : 2015/2559(RSP)
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Document selected : B8-0141/2015

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PV 12/02/2015 - 4.6
CRE 12/02/2015 - 4.6
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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))

Javier Couso Permuy, Marisa Matias, Marie-Christine Vergiat, Younous Omarjee, Sofia Sakorafa, Sabine Lösing on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group

B8‑0141/2015 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 the situation in Iraq and Syria, and in particular that of 18 September 2014 on the situation in Iraq and Syria and the ISIS offensive(1),

–       having regard to UN Human Rights Council resolution S-22/1 of 1 September 2014 on the human rights situation in Iraq in the light of abuses committed by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and associated groups,

–       having regard to the conclusions of the European Council and in particular those of 20 October 2014 on the ISIL/Da’esh crisis in Syria and Iraq and of 15 December 2014 on Syria, Iraq and the threat from ISIL,

–       having regard to the exchange of views of 2 February 2015 between its Committee on Foreign Affairs and the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura,

–       having regard to the relevant UN Security Council resolutions,

–       having regard to the Charter of the United Nations,

–       having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

–       having regard to the Geneva Conventions on refugees,

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

A.     whereas the humanitarian situation in Iraq has continued to deteriorate since 2003 following the US invasion; whereas there are currently 5.2 million internally displaced persons, and Iraq also hosts over 235 000 Syrian refugees; 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; whereas over 150 000 vulnerable Iraqi refugees are currently residing in neighbouring countries, notably Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon;

B.     whereas after four years of a conflict of extreme violence and brutality between the government and opposition groups in Syria over 200 000 people have died and 12.2 million people need humanitarian assistance; whereas 7.6 million people, half of them children, are internally displaced and 3.8 million have fled to neighbouring countries, notably Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt;

C.     whereas on 29 June 2014 IS proclaimed a ‘caliphate’ or ‘Islamic State’ in the territories under its control in Iraq and Syria; whereas its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been declared caliph; whereas IS now controls a third of Iraq and Syria with a population living in an area of 250 000 square kilometres and wishes to extend its ‘caliphate’; whereas the transnational character of the so-called Islamic State, with significant financial resources, and around 200 000 fighters according to some sources, poses a threat to the wider region; whereas thousands of foreigners, including EU citizens, are estimated to be fighting with these armed groups; whereas the upsurge of IS has aggravated the humanitarian crisis, notably with a massive displacement of civilians;

D.     whereas IS is being accused by the UN of committing ‘mass atrocities’ and war crimes; whereas it has also been accused by human rights organisations of the ethnic cleansing of minority groups in northern Iraq;

E.     whereas in August 2014 the US started to carry out airstrikes targeting IS in Iraq; whereas at the NATO meeting of 5 September 2014 an ‘anti-IS’ coalition was formed, authorising French, British, Danish, Canadian and Australian airstrikes; whereas in November 2014 President Obama announced the doubling of the US ground presence inside Iraq; whereas in December 2014 the US Senate’s Committee on Foreign Affairs authorised US military force against IS; whereas on 15 January 2015 it was reported that over 16 000 air strikes had been carried out in Iraq, some 60 % of them by the US Air Force;

F.     whereas US airstrikes against IS also began in Syria on 22 September 2014, supported by the forces of Arab League countries such as Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE); whereas the US-led air strikes against IS and fighting between government and opposition groups have also resulted in large numbers of death and displacements;

G.     whereas last week IS was pushed out of the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobane, on the Turkish border, by Kurdish forces supported by US airstrikes after a four-month siege; whereas Kurdish forces have retaken control of around 50 surrounding villages;

H.     whereas on 24 December 2014 a Jordanian fighter jet was shot down over Syria and its pilot, Muath Al-Kasabeh, was captured; whereas the UAE stopped its airstrike missions over Syria after the Jordanian jet was shot down; whereas a video of the brutal execution of the pilot, who was burned alive, was released on 3 February 2015; whereas Jordan reacted with the execution of two prisoners, including a failed suicide bomber and by carrying out further airstrikes on Mosul;

I.      whereas on 31 January 2015 IS released a video showing the apparent beheading of the Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, whereas a week earlier it had released a video showing of the killing of Japanese citizen Haruna Yukawa;

J.      whereas the group is believed to be holding some dozens of foreign hostages; whereas IS has declared that the young American aid worker Kayle Muller, who was seized in northern Syria and initially given a ‘life sentence’, was killed by a Jordanian airstrike;

K.     whereas, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), IS has established unlawful so-called ‘sharia courts’ in the territory under its control, which have been carrying out cruel and inhuman punishments on men, women and children;

L.     whereas IS has published a video including images of two men being thrown off the top of a building after being accused of homosexual acts by a so-called court in Mosul; whereas it has also posted photos of two men being crucified after being accused of banditry and of a woman being stoned to death, allegedly for adultery;

M.    whereas according to a report by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, boys are being trained as child soldiers, girls are being sold as sex slaves and hundreds of other children have been tortured and executed by IS;

N.     whereas reports indicate that at least three women lawyers have been executed and four doctors recently killed for their professional activities; whereas OHCHR is expected to present a report documenting human rights violations by IS in Iraq to the Human Rights Council in March;

O.     whereas IS is currently the terrorist group with the greatest economic resources, having secured significant income sources by taking over important oilfields in Syria, by looting banks and businesses on territories it controls, by selling antiquities, from ransoms for kidnappings and from funds placed in operational safe havens by donors, particularly from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE; whereas IS has looted much US military equipment from the Iraq military and can easily buy high-quality weapons on international arms markets; whereas Russia has recently announced a legally binding initiative in the framework of the UN Security Council to put pressure on countries to cut off the cash flow to Islamic State;

P.     whereas the disintegration of the Iraq-Syria border resulting from the conflict in both countries, has provided IS with opportunities to enhance its presence in both countries; whereas former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated on 8 February 2015 that the US-led invasion of Iraq was a mistake and had helped create IS, as ‘the aim of creating democracy without the existing institutions ushered in corrupt sectarian governments, the country has been unstable ever since and this has proved the perfect breeding ground for Sunni radical Muslims, who have become affiliated with the Islamic State’;

Q.     whereas the US invasion of Iraq of 2003 killed more than 1 million people and displaced over 4 million Iraqis, half of whom fled to Syria; whereas the Iraqi Government set up after the invasion has acted in such a way as to cause social discontent and religious extremism, which was boosted and financed in Syria by the Western powers seeking a change of regime; whereas Qatar and Saudi Arabia have provided weapons to Sunni rebel groups and Turkey has allowed Sunni fighters, including jihadists from al-Qaeda and IS, to cross its border into Syria;

R.     whereas a UN commission of inquiry investigating alleged human rights violations in Syria since March 2011 has evidence that those on both sides of the conflict have committed war crimes, including murder, torture, rape and enforced disappearances; whereas both parties has been also accused of using civilian suffering, such as blocking access to food, water and health services, as a method of war;

S.     whereas a large proportion of the more than half a million registered Palestinian refugees in Syria have been made refugees for a second time as they have had to flee refugee camps and towns in Syria as a result of military groups moving in and occupying the camps and violating the neutrality of the refugees;

T.     whereas the killing of the Jordanian pilot has been widely condemned by the international community, including the Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi, by leading authorities in Sunni Islam such as Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar University in Egypt, and by Hezbollah, which in addition called on several states in the region and the world to reconsider policies that support terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq;

1.      Is extremely concerned at the deterioration of the humanitarian and security situation in Iraq and Syria as a result of the occupation of significant parts of their territory by IS; expresses serious concern at the severe lack of funding for the UN Appeals 2014, which has led to the temporary suspension of World Food Programme assistance to Syrian refugees; urges the international community, therefore, to step up its funding and assistance in response to the forthcoming appeals;

2.      Encourages the Council, the Commission and the High Representative to make all necessary financial and human resources available to assist the refugees; emphasises the need to strengthen international cooperation in order to provide humanitarian assistance and aid to all people displaced by the IS offensive so as to ensure that basic needs are met and alleviate the suffering caused by this violence;

3.      Underscores the need for the parties to agree on humanitarian pauses, localised ceasefires and truces in order to allow humanitarian agencies safe and unhindered access to all affected areas of Syria; recalls that the starvation of civilians as a method of combat is prohibited by international humanitarian law;

4.      Condemns in the strongest possible terms the systematic violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law resulting from the terrorist acts perpetrated by the so-called Islamic State against the Iraqi and Syrian peoples and states, which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity; extends its deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims; calls for the immediate, safe and unconditional release of all those held hostage by this terrorist group;

5.      Stresses the need for those responsible for such violations of international humanitarian law or violations and abuses of human rights law to be held to account through appropriate mechanisms; urges all parties to comply with applicable international humanitarian law in order to protect civilians, respect their human rights and meet their basic needs, which requires providing safe access for humanitarian and medical services to all affected populations; reiterates its demand that all parties demilitarise medical facilities, schools and other civilian facilities, avoid establishing military positions in populated areas, and desist form attacks directed against civilian targets;

6.      Warns against the risk of going down the path of religious war; underlines, nevertheless, the fact that Muslim authorities reject IS as neither Islamic nor a state and have condemned it, considering its actions to be violations of the principles of Islam and a threat to Islam and Muslims across the world; is convinced that the strategy against terrorism cannot be conceived as a fight between civilisations or religions leading to racist and xenophobic presumptions;

7.      Welcomes the liberation of the city of Kobane; supports the Iraqi and Syrian states and the Kurdish forces in their fight against IS terrorism; emphasises the fact that the security response needs to be combined with a sustainable political solution involving all components of society in each case and addressing their legitimate demands;

8.      Calls in particular on the Member States themselves and Western countries to stop financing any militia and, in particular, to stop buying oil coming from oilfields controlled by IS and transported by truck through Turkey; whereas Turkey has also been used as a platform for military training of fighters destined for Syria; believes that mechanisms are required to stop the financing of terrorism through offshore entities involving states and financial institutions, as well as to stop arms trafficking and the buying and selling of energy resources and raw materials benefiting terrorist groups;

9.      Is convinced that the US-led invasion of Iraq and the foreign interference in Syria’s internal affairs have served as a breeding-ground for the appearance and spread of IS; deplores the role played in particular by the US, the Member States, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Israel; recalls the responsibility that those countries bear in the promotion of this conflict and calls on them particularly to alleviate the suffering of those affected by violence and to grant asylum to refugees;

10.    Stresses the fact that the conflict has been exacerbated by the arms trade and the supply of weapons; is highly critical of the role that the various Western interventions of recent years have played in fostering the radicalisation of individuals, especially in the Middle East and the southern neighbourhood countries; stresses that such policies are promoting, not countering, terrorism and therefore should be abandoned;

11.    Reiterates that in the fight against IS human rights and international humanitarian law must be respected; calls on the Governments of Iraq and Syria to take the necessary measures to provide for the security and protection of the people of their countries. including the most vulnerable groups such as children and women; recalls their obligations under international law related to the protection of journalists, media professionals and associated personnel engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict; calls for special protection to be granted to the most vulnerable groups affected by the conflicts, including children, women, the old and disabled people, as well as ethnic and religious minorities or LGTBI people;

12.    Calls for the EU to ensure greater international support for the increased numbers of refugees who risk their lives in open vessels to flee to Europe, and calls for them to be granted asylum and given support;

13.    Is of the opinion that the terrorist practices of Islamist radicals are being used as a tool to debilitate Middle Eastern countries and prevent the existence of any strong state which could use the revenues of its oil sector for its own economic and social development;

14.    Rejects the use of the notion of ‘responsibility to protect’, as it violates international law and does not offer an adequate legal basis to justify the unilateral use of force, in many cases with the goal of regime change; condemns the unilateral assumption of the role of global police officer by powerful states such as the US or by NATO; also condemns so-called selective airstrikes and the introduction of foreign troops on the ground; denounces NATO’s attempt to replace the pacification and stabilisation tasks that can only be implemented by broad consensus in the framework of the UN General Assembly; expresses its deep concern at the increasing number of cases of recruitment of children and young people in Iraq and Syria; recalls the need to particularly protect children and women affected by armed conflict;

15.    Is convinced that a solution can be found only through coordination with the Iraqi and Syrian governments in order to eradicate the causes of terrorism; believes that full respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of states such as Iraq, Syria and Libya, as well as respect for the multicultural character of and democratic principles in their societies, constitute the only guarantee of avoiding the spillover of IS and further suffering to their populations;

16.    Calls for the holding of an international conference on Iraq under the auspices of the United Nations and neighbouring countries in the region, to enable the participation of all of Iraq’s diverse groups and promote the formation of a united government which could put an end to all sectarian and violent policies in the country;

17.    Supports the efforts of the UN Special Envoy for Syria to achieve a strategic de-escalation of violence in Syria as a basis for a broader political process; calls for an international peace conference to be held, bringing together regional actors in order to promote a political solution to the conflict agreed upon by Syrians; insists that the destiny of Syria must rest firmly in the hands of the Syrian people; emphasises the fact that there is no military solution to the conflict; is strongly against any foreign military intervention in Syria but underlines, nevertheless, the need for all parties to engage in a peaceful and political dialogue; calls on all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire as a condition for engagement in an inclusive political dialogue in order to initiate reconciliation and help restore stability in the country;

18.    Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the President of the European Council, the President of the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Head of Delegation in Iraq, the presidents of the parliaments of the Member States, the Government and Council of Representatives of the Republic of Iraq, the Government and Parliament of the Syrian Arab Republic, the Secretary-General of the Union for the Mediterranean, and the League of Arab States.


Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0027.

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