The Syria war’s unknown toll


For the first time since it stopped attempting to count Syria’s dead back in 2014, the UN has released a new casualty number. The UN Human Rights Office now says 350,209 people were killed in the war between March 2011 and March 2021—but cautions that because of the strict methodology used, this figure is “certainly an under-count of the actual number of killings.” And it doesn’t include those who died from causes that would likely have been more easily treatable were it not for the ongoing violence, such as hunger or COVID-19, which is now barrelling through northwest Syria, spreading quickly in displacement camps and overwhelming healthcare facilities.

To make things worse, Médecins Sans Frontières points out that many people across northern Syria are unable to access safe water. This doesn’t just make it harder to limit the spread of COVID-19, but has also led to a worrying increase in cases of waterborne diseases. With much of the country in economic trouble, fewer people can afford to buy their own clean water, and aid agencies and NGOs are struggling to fill the gaps.

From The New Humanitarian, Oct. 1

See our last reports on the dilemmas of arriving at a body count in Syria

Photo: Destruction of Aleppo, via 7ee6an