UN votes to create body to probe fate of over 130,000 missing Syrians

Syrian flag.

The UN General Assembly [UNGA] has created an independent body to "clarify" the fate of thousands of people who remain missing in Syria since war broke out in 2011, over objections from Damascus.

"After 12 years of conflict and violence in the Syrian Arab Republic, little progress has been achieved in alleviating the suffering of families by providing answers as to the fate and whereabouts of all missing persons," said the resolution on Thursday, which passed with 83 votes in favour, 11 opposed and 62 abstentions.

Syria, Russia, China, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba and Iran voted no.

The Independent Institution on Missing Persons in the Syrian Arab Republic will "clarify the fate and whereabouts of all missing persons" in the country and "provide adequate support to victims, survivors and the families of those missing."

Syria's uprising-turned conflict, now in its 13th year, has killed nearly a half million people and displaced half of its prewar population of 23 million.

The International Commission on Missing Persons cites UN estimates that in 2021 more than 130,000 Syrians were missing as a result of the conflict.

In the run-up to the vote, over 100 civil society organisations and 23 UN human rights experts had urged the General Assembly to establish an independent institution.

The organisations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and a dozen Syrian groups, called on UN member nations "to support the families' right to truth."

They noted that the call was also supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross and others.

"United Nations member countries should vote to establish a humanitarian body that will seek to provide Syrians with long-overdue answers about their long-missing loved ones, Human Rights Watch and over 100 other Syrian and international human rights organisations said today," Human Rights Watch said.

90% of Syrians below poverty line

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths, meanwhile, pushed the Security Council on Thursday to extend for 12 months its approval of a long-running humanitarian aid operation that delivers help to millions of people in northwest Syria from Türkiye.

Authorization by the 15-member council is needed because Syrian authorities did not agree to the UN operation, which has been delivering aid including food, medicine and shelter to opposition-controlled areas of Syria since 2014.

The current six-month authorisation is due to expire on July 10.

Syrian ally Russia has long questioned the need for the operation, arguing that more humanitarian assistance should be delivered to the area from within Syria.

Griffiths also warned that the 12-year conflict in Syria has pushed 90 percent of its population below the poverty line, and that millions face cuts in food aid next month because of a funding shortfall.

Griffiths said that the $5.4 billion UN humanitarian appeal for Syria — the world's largest — is only 12 percent funded, meaning that emergency food aid for millions of Syrians could be cut by 40 percent in July.


Source: TRT