Almost 93,000 people have been killed thus far in the Syrian civil war, according to a report presented Thursday by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pllay.
“The constant flow of killings continues at shockingly high levels – with more than 5,000 killings documented every month since last July, including a total of just under 27,000 new killings since 1 December,” Pillay said. “Unfortunately, as the study indicates, this is most likely a minimum casualty figure. The true number of those killed is potentially much higher.”
The latest study – which updates an earlier one that compiled some 60,000 documented deaths up to 30 November 2012 – was conducted using a combined list of 263,055 reported killings, fully identified by the name of the victim, as well as the date and location of the death. It was compiled using datasets from eight different sources.
The statistical analysts who produced the report noted that this total is likely to underestimate the actual number of killings and that there is a strong likelihood that many killings may not have been reported at all by any of the eight sources.
The analysis shows a dramatic increase in the average monthly number of documented killings since the beginning of the conflict, from around 1,000 per month in the summer of 2011 to an average of more than 5,000 per month since July 2012.
During the peak period from July to October 2012, the number exceeded 6,000 per month.
“This extremely high rate of killings, month after month, reflects the drastically deteriorating pattern of the conflict over the past year,” Pillay said. “As clearly indicated in the latest report by the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, civilians are bearing the brunt of widespread, violent and often indiscriminate attacks which are devastating whole swathes of major towns and cities, as well as outlying villages. Government forces are shelling and launching aerial attacks on urban areas day in and day out, and are also using strategic missiles and cluster and thermobaric bombs.
“Opposition forces have also shelled residential areas, albeit using less fire-power, and there have been multiple bombings resulting in casualties in the heart of cities, especially Damascus.”
The greatest number of documented killings has been recorded in the Governates of Rural Damascus (17,800), Homs (16,400), Aleppo (11,900) and Idlib (10,300); followed by Daraa (8,600), Hama (8,100), Damascus (6,400) and Deir ez-Zor (5,700).
The sharpest increases since November 2012 were recorded in Rural Damascus and Aleppo with 6,200 and 4,800 new documented deaths respectively. Totals of more than 1,000 documented deaths have been recorded in a further six Governates since November 2012.
Some 82.6 percent of the victims documented so far are male, while 7.6 percent are female. The gender of the victim is not indicated in 9.8 percent of cases.
The analysis was not able to differentiate consistently between combatants and non-combatants, and around three-quarters of the reported killings do not record the victim’s age.
Nevertheless, “the killings of at least 6,561 minors, including at least 1,729 children under ten years old – have been documented,” the High Commissioner said. “There are also well-documented cases of individual children being tortured and executed, and entire families, including babies, being massacred – which, along with this devastatingly high death toll, is a terrible reminder of just how vicious this conflict has become.”
“I urge the parties to declare an immediate ceasefire before tens of thousands more people are killed or injured,” Pillay said. “Nobody is gaining anything from this senseless carnage. And States with influence could, if they act collectively, do a lot more to bring the conflict to a swift end, thereby saving countless more lives. The only answer is a negotiated political solution. Tragically, shamefully, nothing will restore the 93,000 or more individual lives already lost.”