BRICS urged to help Syrian civilians

Johannesburg, March 26 (IANS) The BRICS countries should call for an end to indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian areas in Syria, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.

BRICS should also insist that cluster munitions and incendiary weapons should not be used, it said.
Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which make up BRICS, are meeting in Durban for the annual BRICS summit March 26-27.

When BRICS countries met in New Delhi in 2012, they called for “an immediate end to all violence and violations of human rights” in Syria.
In Durban, BRICS should move beyond that general but ineffective pronouncement and call for specific actions to address the unfolding tragedy on the ground in Syria, Human Rights Watch said.
In particular, BRICS should call for an immediate end to indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian-populated areas, including by ballistic missiles, to the unlawful use of cluster munitions and incendiary weapons, and to summary executions, enforced disappearances, and torture of those detained, it said.
“Syrians need more than empty words from the BRICS countries,” said Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.
“Rather than just call for an end to violence, it is time for BRICS states to make clear that the punishment of the civilian population must stop.”
BRICS countries should also call for Syria’s government to allow humanitarian aid to be brought into the country across all of its borders, including from Turkey, Human Rights Watch said.
Since the BRICs countries expressed “deep concern” at the situation in Syria at the summit meeting a year ago, the death toll in the Syrian conflict has increased from 9,000 to more than 70,000.
“BRICS counties may not see eye-to-eye on the Syria crisis as a whole, but surely they can agree that the UN should be able to reach those in need through the quickest and easiest route,” Hicks said.
“BRICS countries should make it their mission to convince President Bashar al-Assad to agree to open all of Syria’s borders to aid deliveries, including the border with Turkey.”
India, Brazil and South Africa should also push at the Durban summit for their BRICS partner Russia to suspend all military sales and assistance to the Syrian government, Human Rights Watch said.