The Humanitarian Crisis in Al-Qusayr

  • 3 June 2013

The United Nations and other international human rights organizations continue to raise alarm over the targeting of defenseless civilians in Syrian city of Al-Qusayr. Innocent civilians are paying a heavy price for being inhabitants of a town that is strategically located near the Lebanese border which connects the strongholds of the Syrian regime in the coastal areas with Lebanese territories under the control of Hezbollah in the Bekaa valley.

It is heart-rending to hear reports of heavy shelling of Al-Qusayr and to see hundreds of bodies of civilians strewn over the rubble of destroyed buildings. The international community should take a serious humanitarian position to rescue civilians in Al-Qusayr who should not pay the price of political and military conflicts.

The conflict in Al-Qusayr is linked to the announcement of an upcoming international conference. The warring parties are trying to maximize their gains on the ground ahead of the negotiations to enhance their bargaining power. Unfortunately, this is happening at the expense of the lives of defenseless civilians.

The feuding sides, whether they are from Syria or outside, should keep civilians out of their political, military and security operations. People of Al-Qusayr should not be used by any party as human shields. They should not be caught in the crossfire of rockets and missiles. Many civilians are also being killed and deliberately targeted for sectarian reasons. The people of Al-Qusayr are besieged in their as their own town which is surrounded by tanks and armored vehicles. Even the supply of drinking water to the city has been cut off.

The humanitarian calamity that is unfolding in Al-Qusayr should prompt the international community to take a decisive position and pressurize the Syrian regime and its allies to spare the lives of the people of Al-Qusayr. The regime should allow humanitarian aid from international organizations to pass so that treatment and relief are provided to those injured and homeless. Immediate action is needed to avert this major humanitarian tragedy.