The report sets out the challenges in recording casualties during a conflict.
The UN Human Rights Office has published a report which estimates that 306,887 civilians were killed between 1 March 2011 and 31 March 2021 in Syria due to the conflict. This is the highest estimate yet of conflict-related civilian deaths in Syria.
The report published today (June 28), mandated by the UN Human Rights Council, referred to 143,350 civilian deaths that have been individually documented by various sources with detailed information, including at least their full name, date and location of death.
In addition, statistical estimation techniques of imputation and multiple systems estimation were used to connect the dots where there were missing elements of information. Using these techniques, a further 163,537 civilian deaths were estimated to have occurred, bringing the total estimated civilian death toll to 306,887.
“The conflict-related casualty figures in this report are not simply a set of abstract numbers, but represent individual human beings. 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,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said.
The report also contains disaggregated data for the documented deaths, including by age, gender, year, governorate, actors allegedly responsible and the cause of death by weapon type. The estimate of 306,887 means that on average, every single day, for the past 10 years, 83 civilians suffered violent deaths due to the conflict.
The report notes that, “the extent of civilian casualties in the last 10 years represents a staggering 1.5 percent of the total population of the Syrian Arab Republic at the beginning of the conflict, raising serious concerns as to the failure of the parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law norms on the protection of civilians.”
The report sets out the challenges in recording casualties during a conflict, beyond the immediate risk to civil society actors who try to access the sites of incidents where attacks have taken place.
To produce the report, the Office used eight sources of information pertaining to different periods across the 10 years covered. These include: 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; the Violations Documentation Center; Syria Shuhada records; Government records; and records of the UN Human Rights Office itself.
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