01/12/2022

On Day of Remembrance for All Victims of Chemical Warfare, thousands of Syrian victims remembered

The Day of Remembrance for All Victims of Chemical Warfare, observed on 30 November, provides a chance to reiterate the urgency of eradicating the threat posed by chemical weapons and remember those who have fallen victim to them throughout history.

During the First World War, chemical weapons usage became more common. Since then, chemical warfare has claimed more than a million lives worldwide. Ongoing claims of chemical weapons strikes in Syria continue to be made.

In 2012, the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad acknowledged having chemical weapons. On 21 August 2013, it used a nerve toxin in the Daramsuq (Damascus) neighborhood of Ghouta, where upwards of 1,500 civilians were killed and over twice that number suffering from neurotoxic symptoms in hospitals support by Doctors Without Borders.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) launched a Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) in 2015 to look into additional allegations of the use of chemical agents in Syria. According to the FFM, the ” town of Marea was subject to shelling with both conventional munitions as well as projectiles filled with chemicals” in September 2015.

A chemical assault with a nerve agent occurred in the Edleb (Idlib) Governorate town of Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April 2017. At least 90 people were killed in the attack, including 30 children, and hundreds more were injured.

Via its Twitter, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) marked the day with a statement of remembrance for the victims of chemical weapons and reaffirmed its dedication to seeing the threat posed by chemical weapons to the world removed.

The Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) released a statement expressing solidarity with victims of chemical warfare and called on states with undeclared stockpiles of chemicals weapons to inform the OPCW of their existence so they can be safely and verifiably destroyed.

“In remembering the victims of chemical warfare, GICJ calls for the international community’s cooperation in ensuring that all states effectively implement [Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)] and ratify legislation in relation to the prevention of the use of chemical weapons. Further, we call on the international community to continue to pressure those countries with disparities and inconsistencies in their declaration of stockpiling chemical weapons to ratify and abide by the terms of the CWC.”