Syria, new UN report unveils new estimates for civilian casualties

Desolation in Daraa, Syria Desolation in Daraa, Syria Mahmoud Sulaiman on Unsplash

June 29, 2022

A recent UN study sheds a new light on the seriousness of the Syrian conflict from the point of view of the civilian population

On June 28th the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) published a report containing a new study that shows new estimates regarding the number of civilians killed in the Syrian civil war. The conclusions describe a dreadful scenario, even more dramatic than before. In fact, in ten years of war, at least 306,887 civilians were killed in the conflict, 83 deaths every day, therefore 1.5% of the total population of the country. Of these deaths, 143,350 are reported in detail; the other 163,537 were estimated using innovative statistical calculation methods such as imputation and multiple systems estimation, to calculate the approximate number of undocumented deaths.

 Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, gave a press conference in which she expressed her personal considerations on the results of the report, as well as the importance of the latter in order to raise awareness in civil society and to work on possible solutions to ease the pressure of the conflict on civilians. Bachelet  noted that “the conflict-related casualty figures in this report are not simply a set of abstract numbers, but represent individual human beings” and that "The work of civil society organizations and the UN in monitoring and documenting conflict-related deaths is key in helping […] families and communities establish the truth, seek accountability and pursue effective remedies. "

 These new estimates also show how the factions active in the conflict have failed to enforce international humanitarian law, especially the obligations concerning the​​ protection of civilians. The High Commissioner herself clarified that these data found only take into account civilians who died directly as a result of military operations. This means that people who have died from lack of food, clean water, healthcare, and basic sanitation are not counted and that the number of civilian victims of the Syrian civil war is much higher.


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by Ignazio Alcamo

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