Syrian protesters
Syrian protesters Israel news photo: courtesy of Ugarit News

The United Nations has stopped compiling a death toll in Syria’s crackdown on protests because it is too difficult to get information, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said on Wednesday.

AFP reported that after meeting ambassadors from the UN Security Council, Pillay said the death toll in Syria had risen but added, “We are experiencing difficulties because of the fragmentation on the ground.

Pillay, who in December said the death toll in the Syria crackdown stood at 5,000, noted, “Some areas are totally closed such as parts of Homs, so we are unable to update that figure but in my view 5,000 and more is a huge figure and should really shock the international community into taking action.”

Last month Pillay said that Syria was “on the cusp of civil war.”

Meanwhile, AFP reported, Security Council ambassadors held negotiations on when Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby could brief the 15-member body on the league’s efforts to halt the crisis.

According to the report, European and Arab nations hope to use the Arab League’s demands that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hand over power to get the Security Council to pass its first resolution condemning the violence.

The League’s path forward in Syria, which was agreed upon on Sunday, instructs Assad to delegate powers to his vice president following the formation of a national unity government.

The Arab League called on the Syrian government to start a dialogue with the opposition within two weeks, and for the new government to be formed within two months.

The League’s plan calls for the unity government to prepare to elect a council, within three months, that will write a constitution. It should also prepare for parliamentary and presidential elections.

Diplomats told AFP Elaraby could brief the council within days just ahead of a vote on a resolution, which is now being written up before being distributed to all members.

On Sunday, the 22-member Arab League officially voted to extend the mandate of the observer mission to Syria by one month.

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