This video screenshot depicts two people providing humanitarian supplies for a mother and her children. The image is made up of an illustration
Syria/Region: News

Humanitarian Assistance and Access in Armed Conflict

16 May 2024

Humanitarian access and assistance to areas controlled by non-State armed groups (NSAGs) is essential in improving civilian protection and human rights in armed conflict.

The provision of humanitarian assistance to civilians in areas controlled by NSAGs is of critical concern. Over 175 million civilians are estimated to live in NSAG-controlled territories and in many situations the civilian population does not have access to resources essential for its survival. Under IHL, States and NSAGs must allow and facilitate humanitarian assistance to those in need. Where they are unable to meet the needs of the civilian population themselves, they must consent to offers of impartial humanitarian assistance.

The `IHL Centre believes that highlighting the practice of NSAGs in relation to the provision of humanitarian assistance is vital to avoid practices that may constitute serious violations of international law, irrespective of the intention of the perpetrator. NSAGs that engage in diversion, taxation, conditionality, discrimination, and coercion in the context of humanitarian assistance are likely acting in breach of IHL and depriving civilians of resources essential to their survival. Taking practical steps to incorporate and implement IHL rules on humanitarian assistance into NSAG policies and codes of conduct is a critical means of fulfilling their obligations towards the civilian population.

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This video has been funded by ECHO.