West Asia

Syrian war death toll of 350,000 an 'undercount': U.N.

Published : September 25, 2021 13:39 IST

Michelle Bachelet, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. A file photo. Photo: Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP

In its first report on Syrian war dead since 2014, the U.N. says the real toll is likely to be higher.

The United Nations human rights office on September 24 issued a new death toll of the Syrian war, putting the total at 350,209 deaths. However, the U.N. office said the figure, which includes civilians and combatants, is an "undercount."

The U.N. Syria report in detail

The greatest number of documented fatalities was in Syria's most populous governorate, Aleppo, with 51,731 named individuals killed. Heavy death tolls were also reported in Rural Damascus, 47,483 deaths, and the western city of Homs, 40,986.

"Today, the daily lives of the Syrian people remain scarred by unimaginable suffering,'' U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet told the Human Rights Council. "And there is still no end to the violence they endure; just last month, civilians in and around Daraa were exposed to intense fighting and indiscriminate shelling by government forces and armed opposition groups." Bachelet said more than one in 13 victims was a woman, and one in every 13 was a child.

Why is the figure an 'undercount'?

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has traditionally provided conservative figures for death tolls from crises around the world. It has long cited difficulties in reporting on the rights situation in Syria in particular. The rights office had stopped updating the death toll from Syria's civil war in early 2014 — at a count of 191,369.

"We assess this figure of 350,209 as statistically sound, based as it is on rigorous work," Bachelet said on September 24. "It indicates a minimum verifiable number, and is certainly an under-count of the actual number of killings," she added.

In June, the U.K.-based monitor Syrian Observatory of Human Rights had put the estimated death toll in the war at over 606,000 — including some 495,000 documented deaths.

fb/rt (AP, Reuters, EFE)

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