Tuesday 24 April 2018

191,369: The number of people killed in Syrian conflict so far, UN confirm

A man walks by damage and debris in Ain Tarma, in the eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus
A man walks by damage and debris in Ain Tarma, in the eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus

The death toll from Syria's civil war has risen to more than 191,000 people killed between March 2011 and April 2014, the United Nations said.

The figure is the first issued by the UN's human rights office since July 2013, when it documented more than 100,000 killed.

The UN's top human rights official, Navi Pillay, who oversees the Geneva-based office, said today that the new figures are so much higher because they include additional killings from earlier periods, as well as deaths since the last report.

The exact figure of confirmed deaths is 191,369, Ms Pillay said.

"As the report explains, tragically it is probably an underestimate of the real total number of people killed during the first three years of this murderous conflict," she said.

Ms Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, criticised the world's "paralysis" over the fighting in Syria, which "has dropped off the international radar" in the face of so many other armed conflicts around the world.

In January, her office said it had stopped updating the death toll, blaming the organisation's lack of access on the ground in Syria and its inability to verify source material. It was unclear why it has released new figures now.

The UN also would not endorse anyone else's count, including the widely quoted figures from the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has closely counted the deaths since Syria's crisis began in March 2011.

Yesterday, that body said the number of deaths has reached 180,000.

The high death toll is a reflection of the brutality of Syria's conflict, which has transformed into a complex, multi-layered war where various factions fight against each other.

It also reflects the recent surge in deadly attacks by Islamic State targeting rival militant groups, mainstream Western-backed Syrian rebels and Kurdish militiamen in northern Syria as it seeks to eliminate opponents and consolidate its hold on territory and resources.

Men comprised 85% of the victims and women more than 9%, while the sex was unknown in the remaining cases. The records show at least 8,800 child victims, although the age of most victims is unknown.

The figures are based on information from the Syrian Centre for Statistics and Research, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, the Violations Documentation Centre, the Syrian government and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Ms Pillay's spokesman, Rupert Colville, said when she criticised inaction in the international community she was referring mainly to the stand-off on the UN Security Council.

Russia has been one of Syrian president Bashar Assad's main allies and has used its veto power four times at the 15-nation council to prevent international sanctions on Syria.

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