For more than five years, the international community has tremendously failed in protecting civilians in Syria, failed in negotiating an end to the conflict and failed in facilitating humanitarian protection. All world leaders’ meetings seem to have gone in vain while violence continues at unprecedented levels in Syria. Aside from the high-level political talks and negotiations, several initiatives by Syrian activists have been taken to address the migration and refugee crisis, support Syrian civil society and protect humans and nonmilitary targets while calling for humanitarian access. Now, Syrian Youth come forward to present their proposals and stress upon the need to address issues, which are immediate and urgent. Of these issues there is inclusion of youth voices in the peace process, protecting youth from detention and torture, ending sexual slavery and exploitation, preventing the radicalization and conscription of youth into extremist groups, and finally equipping the youth with opportunities to lead productive roles in post-conflict Syria. Since the Syrian conflict has begun, education enrollment in Syria has fallen from almost 100% to 50%, while in some areas such as Aleppo it is now closer to 6%. Furthermore, this conflict has left almost 3 million children out of schools, limiting their opportunities and increasing their vulnerability. In 2014, half of all Syrian refugee children were not receiving any form of education.
On the other hand, nearly 18,000 people have died in detention centers since 2011. In addition to that, 1,433 children have arrested, only 436 of them were released, with more than 100 of them being under 18 years old. Many prisoners died in detention centers (belonging to either Syrian government or to ISIS and other opposition groups) under traumatic conditions while enduring inhumane treatment and torture sessions.
Therefore in addressing these issues, we Syrian Youth
- Request the inclusion and meaningful participation of Syrian youth in the Intra-Syrian Talks through:a. Organizing a group of selected influential Syrian youth between the ages of 18-30 to attend the talks to address key issues affecting their respective communities as observers: The group shall be supported by the UN Working Group on Youth and Peacebuilding; Engaging a diverse range of Syrian youth from various backgrounds; Ensuring gender balance, to be able to adequately address the root causes behind the issues faced by both males and females in different contexts, such as: discrimination in the workplace, safety in refugee camps, integrating in new societies.b. Allotting time in these talks to discuss issues faced by Syrian youth, with emphasis on: Education; Job opportunities; Provision of adequate medical and psychological assistance; Other areas pertaining to the safety and stability of Syrian youth.
- Emphasize the critical role of youth during the post-war reconciliation phase. As such, the youth play a part in: a) Reminding the Syrian nation of their collective Syrian identity, through the elimination of all sectarian lines that may have been drawn during the war; b) Using collective memory as a tool to remind the society of the pains and atrocities of war; c) Supporting the creation and enhancement of Syria’s civil society; d) Developing a culture of dialogue and acceptance, built upon and harnessing the widespread mosaic of the Syrian society;
- Call for the implementation of the UNSCR 2250 during the Geneva peace talks and we show our deep interest in participating in and supporting the processes therein;
- Recognize the underlying causes of gender inequality by demanding that measures be taken to protect the specific needs of young and often marginalized girls in refugee countries and inside Syria from all forms of sexual violence including organized rape, sexual slavery, sexual harassment and prostitution;
- Stress upon the world governments to increase their pressure on the Syrian government to release abruptly detained youth and to prohibit torture;
- Propose education as a way of protecting girls from child marriage and preventing males from joining extremist radicalized groups;
- Demand all parties associated with armed conflict in Syria to immediately take appropriate measures to protect women and to present convicted sex offenders to appropriate international or national courts;
- Encourage the United Nations to supervise a body that protects and helps women who have been forced to endure extreme conditions of poverty or have been victims of gender-based violence;
- Request to allow ICRC and Amnesty investigative teams to enter all government prisons to investigate the conditions under which the prisoners are living;
- Request the opening of psycho-social centers to address the psychological problems that may have emerged with the female and male youth as a result of entering adolescence only to be labeled and pre.
We, the undersigned, do hereby declare our support of the Syrian Youth Statement and its proposal.