Syria/Region: Publication

Humanitarian assistance in earthquake-affected areas in Syria

24 March 2023

In response to the humanitarian crises caused by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, this paper provides guidance on the international legal framework that regulates the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the context of both international and non-international armed conflict. Focusing on the essential humanitarian needs of persons living under the control of non-State armed groups (NSAGs) in Northwest Syria, it discusses the practical and legal consequences of delivering aid without the consent of the Syrian State and the impact of international sanctions on the civilian population.

Presented as a series of questions and answers, this paper offers a reference point for understanding the obligations of each of the main actors involved in meeting the needs of the civilian population, including Syria, NSAGs controlling territory in Syria, Turkey as an occupying power, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). This paper is not exhaustive of the obligations owed by various actors involved in the armed conflict in Syria.

At the outset, it is important to recognise that all persons have the right to life and to have their essential humanitarian needs met. There is no lawful justification for denying the fulfilment of these rights.