The members of the Policy Coordination Group (PCG) express their solidarity with the families of the victims and with all those who were impacted by the earthquakes that hit southern Türkiye and northern Syria in February. The members of the PCG offer their sincere condolences to civil society partners who lost colleagues in the earthquakes.
The earthquakes struck as the Syrian people continue to suffer in the ongoing conflict for 12 years and in which more than 130,000 people have gone missing, more than half a million have been killed, 13 million have been displaced, and more than six million have been forced to seek asylum abroad. How much more suffering can the Syrian people endure?
The members of the PCG are deeply disappointed by the failure to deliver humanitarian aid promptly to hard-hit communities in northwest Syria. Syrians were left to die under the rubble at a time when the international community is marking 75 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
At the same time, members of the PCG recognize the heroic efforts of first responders, and especially those of the White Helmets, who worked day and night and with limited resources to save lives in the most desperate of situations.
At a meeting after the earthquakes, the PCG was able to confirm that all its members are safe. It examined ways in which it can respond to the tragedy. In the short term, as it reviews documents it has produced to help a future Syrian authorities account for all of those who disappeared during and before the conflict, the PCG will incorporate measures to account for those who have gone missing in the earthquakes.
The PCG reiterates its firm belief that there cannot be sustainable peace in Syria without a comprehensive, law-based effort to account for the missing and seek justice for their families.
About the PCG:
The Syrian-led PCG is facilitated by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and was launched in 2021 (read more here). The group is composed of 27 members, including members of Syrian family associations, representatives of civil society organizations, jurists, human rights defenders located inside and outside Syria, members of the Constitutional Committee, and international advisors. The group aims to develop a policy framework for a future Syrian missing persons’ process. Over the past two years, the PCG has developed several documents related to Syria’s missing, including:
- A set of ethical standards and codes of conduct for efforts pertaining to data collection and documentation of missing persons (see Ethical Charter here);
- Provisions needed for a future law aimed at revealing the fate of the missing and disappeared and guaranteeing the rights of their families, particularly during the transitional and post-conflict phase in Syria (see proposed legislation here);
- Recommended provisions for a future Syrian constitution to enable a sustainable and just process to account for more than 100,000 persons missing from the conflict (click here to see constitutional principles); and
- A recommended national legal framework to address the issue of mass graves in Syria (see document here for final version).