Press release on schoolchildren detained by militants in Idlib, Syria
According to media reports, militants from the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group, listed as a terrorist organisation by the UN Security Council, blocked a convoy of 17 minibuses carrying schoolchildren on their way to Hama. The schoolchildren were travelling from Idlib to territories controlled by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic. Once there, they were to sit exams to obtain standard graduation certificates.
The operation took place with the assistance of the Russian Centre for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides and Refugee Migration Monitoring by preliminary agreement between Syrian authorities and heads of local administrations in the de-escalation zone. Earlier, about 1,200 students were able to travel from Idlib to Aleppo as part of this mission. However, militants refused to wave through the second group in Hama and threatened to use weapons when the children and their parents tried to leave the zone on foot.
This incident once again highlights the arbitrary rule of Idlib militants who terrorise civilians, commit crimes and carry out other illegal activities. The creation of obstacles to the free movement of civilians during the armed conflict is a gross violation of international humanitarian law. Schoolchildren from Idlib were denied not only the freedom of movement, stipulated under Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but also the right to education, as specified by the document’s Article 26.
We are convinced that the international community and UN representatives should not stand idly by while the militants carry out arbitrary and criminal actions. The children from Idlib, whom members of the UN Security Council recalled so often during the counter-terrorist operation, are now being forgotten.
We are urging all the concerned parties to take action and guarantee the safe passage of schoolchildren and their parents from the de-escalation zone in Idlib and to defend them from the arbitrary rule of terrorists.