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Bachelet: More than 350,000 deaths documented in Syria since start of conflict 

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News briefing 

Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice 

Geneva: 3 July 2022 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said that for more than a decade now, the war in Syria has left indelible marks on its men, women and children. The human toll has been devastating, and civilians in Syria have bear the heaviest price.  

More than 350 thousand documented deaths: 

While presenting a report to the Fact-Finding Committee in Syria before the fiftieth session of the Human Rights Council, Bachelet added that this report provides a more complete picture of the scale of the conflict and its impact on civilians, and that thanks to concerted efforts, it was possible to provide figures on civilian deaths related to the conflict between March 2011 and March 2021, including the total number of documented civilian deaths, and estimates of undocumented deaths. 

The High Commissioner explained that of the 350,209 thousand documented deaths in general as a direct result of the conflict – over the decade in question – 143,350 of them were civilians, and for each of these civilians, we were able to document the names, dates and places of death. In addition, a further 163,537 civilian deaths were estimated to have occurred, bringing the total estimated civilian death toll to the shocking number of 306,887 in this ten-year period, the highest estimate yet of conflict-related civilian deaths in the country. This means that every day since the fighting began in March 2011, 83 civilians – including 9 women and 18 children – have been killed. 

Bachelet indicated that the report also includes information on the sites where civilians died during the ten-year period, where the highest estimates of civilian deaths were recorded in Rural Damascus (61,800), Aleppo (51,563), Deir ez-Zor (38,041), Idlib (36,536) and Homs (29,983). 

The numbers are a reminder of the cruelty of the war in Syria: 

In addition, the report provides new information on the actors said to have caused the documented deaths, with the government, its allies, and non-state armed groups allegedly causing a large number of them, including anti-government groups, Islamist factions and the so-called Islamic State, A more complete picture of this information is still needed, however, it requires further analysis and additional application of estimation techniques. 

Bachelet stressed that the numbers and information she presented are an astonishing reminder of the scale and cruelty of the war in Syria, and that the parties involved in the conflict there show disturbing patterns year after year, and highlight that this absurd war is not yet over. 

Calls for peace: 

The High Commissioner called on all parties to the conflict to strictly abide by international humanitarian law and human rights obligations and ensure the protection of civilians at risk from their military operations,  including by avoiding the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. 

I continue to strongly urge the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, in line with Human Rights Council resolutions S-18/1 and 19/22, to cooperate with the special procedures of the Human Rights Council and with my Office. This  includes  the request to establish an OHCHR office in Syria with the mandate to protect and promote human rights and to contribute to protecting civilians and understanding the patterns and impact of the conflict. I also call on the Government to ensure access to remedies and reparations for all victims and survivors of this war, including ensuring effective accountability and transitional justice mechanisms, with meaningful participation of victims.” she said. 

Bachelet also urged all states, with the support of the United Nations, to use all available means and their influence to end the conflict now, and to support an immediate and sustainable transition to peace.  

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