Atrocity Alert No. 26: Burma/Myanmar, Syria and Yemen

12 October 2016

Atrocity Alert is a weekly publication by the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect highlighting and updating situations where populations are at risk of, or are enduring, mass atrocity crimes.


Following a series of attacks on border posts on 9 October in Burma/Myanmar’s Arakhan/Rakhine state, it was reported that nine police officers and eight attackers were killed. The identity or affiliation of the attackers has not been established. The government subsequently declared a state of emergency in Maungdaw and in three other townships in Arakhan/Rakhine state and deployed security forces to the area. Reports of mass arrests and extrajudicial killings  of Rohingya have surfaced since a joint army-police counter-operation began on 10 October. The current situation risks exacerbating existing inter-communal tensions in Arakhine/Rakhine state between Buddhists and members of the Rohingya group, a distinct Muslim ethnic minority, which has been systematically persecuted by the government.


On 8 October the UN Security Council (UNSC) failed to adopt two separate draft resolutions on the conflict in Syria, highlighting the entrenched political divisions between Council members. A draft resolution put forward by the French and Spanish, which would have had the UNSC demand an immediate halt to airstrikes and military flights over the city of Aleppo and urged the immediate implementation of a cessation of hostilities, was vetoed by Russia, with Venezuela also voting against the proposal. The UNSC subsequently voted on a Russian draft text, which would have urged an immediate cessation of hostilities and demanded that all parties prevent material and financial support from reaching terrorist groups. The resolution only received 4 votes in favor, and thus did not have enough support to be adopted. With over 280,000 people already dead, Saturday’s veto condemns countless more Syrians to unnecessary suffering.

A growing number of UN member states and civil society organizations believe that the UNSC demonstrated on Saturday that it is unable to uphold its UN Charter mandate to maintain international peace and security with regard to Syria, and that, therefore, the UN General Assembly should be allowed to take up the issue, utilizing the “Uniting for Peace” mechanism.


On 8 October forces from the Saudi-led military coalition reportedly bombed a reception hall in Sana’a during the funeral of a Yemeni government minister’s father. The airstrike resulted in more than 140 people killed, one of the largest death tolls resulting from a single attack since the conflict in Yemen escalated in March 2015. The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen and the Head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs both immediately condemned the attack, calling for increased measures to ensure the protection of civilians, respect for international humanitarian law, and accountability for the airstrike. The United States and United Kingdom both released statements indicating they would review their support for the Saudi-led coalition. On 10 October the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement, later supported by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, that reiterated his call for an independent, international inquiry into violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law since the start of the conflict.

Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

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