More than 300,000 civilians killed in Syrian conflict: UN report

The report based on eight sources says some 306,887 civilians were killed in Syria between March 1, 2011 to March 31, 2021 due to the conflict.

Syrian men carry bags of bread on their heads while walking back to their homes.
The numbers of dead do not include people who were buried by their families without notifying authorities [File: Hassan Ammar/AP Photo]

In the first 10 years of Syria’s conflict more than 300,000 civilians were killed, the United Nations has said, while on the same day another report by the world body said more than 100 detainees have been killed in a Syrian camp.

The civilian deaths report published on Tuesday by the UN Human Rights Office followed what the organisation said were rigorous assessment and statistical analysis of the available data on civilian casualties.

According to the report, 306,887 civilians are estimated to have been killed in Syria between March 1, 2011 and March 31, 2021 because of the conflict.

“The conflict-related casualty figures in this report are not simply a set of abstract numbers, but represent individual human beings,” said Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“The impact of the killing of each of these 306,887 civilians would have had a profound, reverberating impact on the family and community to which they belonged,” Bachelet said.

The figures released by the UN do not include soldiers and fighters killed in the conflict; their numbers are believed to be in the tens of thousands. The numbers also do not include people who were killed and buried by their families without notifying authorities.

The report, mandated by the UN Human Rights Council, cited 143,350 civilian deaths individually documented by various sources with detailed information, including at least their full name, date and location of death. The report was based on eight sources of information – including the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies, the Center for Statistics and Research-Syria, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and the Violations Documentation Center.

The Syrian conflict began with anti-government protests that broke out in March 2011 in different parts of Syria, demanding democratic reforms following the Arab Spring protests in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Libya and Bahrain that removed some national leaders who had been in power for decades.

The protests quickly turned into a full-blown civil war that killed hundreds of thousands and destroyed large parts of the country.

A Syrian man inspects a damaged house
A Syrian man inspects a damaged house following a reported regime artillery shelling in northwestern Idlib province [File: Abdulaziz Ketaz/AFP]

Deaths at detention camp

Separately on Tuesday, the UN said more than 100 people, including many women, have been killed in a Syrian camp in just 18 months, demanding countries repatriate their citizens.

Al-Hol, in the Kurdish-controlled northeast, was meant as a temporary detention facility. However, it still holds about 56,000 people, mostly Syrians and Iraqis, some of whom maintain links with the ISIL (ISIS) group.

The Al-Hol camp is increasingly unsafe, said Imran Riza, the UN resident coordinator in Syria. “It’s a very harsh place and it’s become an increasingly unsafe place,” Riza said.

“There’s a great deal of gender-based violence … There’s a lot of no-go areas.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies