More than 191,000 people were killed in the first three years of Syria’s civil war, a U.N. report said on Friday, and the world body’s human rights envoy rebuked leading powers for failing to halt what she branded a “wholly avoidable human catastrophe”.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said war crimes were still being committed with total impunity on all sides in the conflict, which began with initially peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule in March 2011.
“It is a real indictment of the age we live in that not only has this been allowed to continue so long, with no end in sight, but is also now impacting horrendously on hundreds of thousands of other people across the border in northern Iraq, and the violence has also spilled over into Lebanon,” said Pillay.
Pillay, in a statement issued a week before leaving office, added: “The killers, destroyers and torturers in Syria have been empowered and emboldened by the international paralysis.
“It is essential that governments take serious measures to halt the fighting and deter the crimes, and above all, stop fueling this monumental, and wholly avoidable, human catastrophe through the provision of arms and other military supplies.”
The report by Pillay’s Geneva office was based on data from four rebel groups and the Syrian government. They were cross-checked to eliminate duplicates and inaccuracies, including non-violent deaths or alleged victims later found to be alive.
It said the number of men, women and children killed in the conflict as of April 30, 2014, totaled at least 191,369. Of them, some 62,000 – both civilians and combatants – were killed in the past year alone, Pillay’s spokesman Rupert Colville said.
The figure is more than twice the number of deaths documented a year ago and is probably still an under-estimate, Pillay added.
For the latest news follow us on Twitter
Join our Weekly Newsletter