Syrian tragedy in numbers: 465,000 killed or missing, 4.9m refugees

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A child pulls a crate carrying water bottles in the once opposition-held Shaar neighborhood in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. (AFP)
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Syrians children play during a sandstorm in the once rebel held Karm Al-Jabal neighborhood in the northern city of Aleppo on March 10, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 14 March 2017
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Syrian tragedy in numbers: 465,000 killed or missing, 4.9m refugees

BEIRUT: The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said on Monday there are so far about 465,000 people killed and missing in Syria’s civil war.
The war began six years ago with protests against President Bashar Assad’s regime. It has since dragged in global and regional powers, allowed Daesh to grab huge tracts of territory and caused the biggest refugee crisis since the World War II.
The Observatory said it had documented the deaths of more than 321,000 people since the start of the war and more than 145,000 others had been reported as missing.
Among those killed are more than 96,000 civilians, said the Observatory, which has used a network of contacts across the country to maintain a count of casualties since near the start of the conflict.
It said regime forces and their allies had killed more than 83,500 civilians, including more than 27,500 in airstrikes and 14,600 under torture in prison.
Opposition shelling had killed more than 7,000 civilians, the Observatory said.
Daesh has killed more than 3,700 civilians, airstrikes by the US-led coalition have killed 920 civilians and Turkey, which is backing opposition fighters in northern Syria, has killed more than 500 civilians, it added.
The Syrian regime and Russia both deny targeting civilians or using torture or extrajudicial killings. Most opposition groups and Turkey also deny targeting civilians. The US-led coalition says it tries hard to avoid civilian casualties and always investigates reports that it has done so. 
In a country with a pre-war population of 23 million, the UN estimates that 6.6 million people have been internally displaced by the fighting.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says 4.7 million people live either in besieged cities or hard-to-access areas.
The war has forced 4.9 million people to flee Syria, according to the UNHCR.
Neighboring Turkey, the main host country, has taken in more than 2.9 million Syrian refugees.
It is followed by Lebanon, which the UN says hosts around 1 million Syrians — one in four of the Lebanese population. The Lebanese government says as many as 1.5 million Syrians are in the country.
In Jordan, where the UNHCR says it has registered 630,000 Syrians, the government says it is hosting 1.4 million.
At least another 225,000 Syrians have taken refuge in Iraq and 137,000 in Egypt, the refugee agency says.
It adds that around 90 percent of Syrian refugees are living in poverty and at least 10 percent are considered “extremely vulnerable.”
In February, Amnesty International said Syrian authorities hanged around 13,000 people between 2011 and 2015 at the infamous Saydnaya prison near Damascus.
It said a further 17,700 people had died in custody since the conflict began.
The Observatory says at least 60,000 people have died from torture or harsh conditions in regime prisons since 2011.
The monitor says half a million people have spent time in regime jails since the start of the conflict.
Several thousand have died over the same period in prisons run by opposition groups or extremists, it says.
In February 2016, UN investigators accused the regime of “extermination” in its jails and detention centers.
Experts say the conflict has set Syria’s economy back by three decades and devastated its infrastructure.
The education and health systems are in ruins.
By 2015, 83 percent of Syria’s electric grid was out of service, according to a coalition of 130 non-governmental organizations.
More than four-fifths of the population lives in poverty, according to an April 2016 study by the UN and Britain’s Saint Andrews University.
The study also said that Syrian business activity shrank by 55 percent between 2010 and 2015.


Migrant killed during Libya disembarkation: UN

Updated 22 min ago

Migrant killed during Libya disembarkation: UN

  • ‘This was tragedy waiting to happen’: International Organization for Migrationspokesman Leonard Doyle
  • IOM demands ‘immediate action ... to put an end to the suffering of civilians in Libya, especially detained migrants’

GENEVA: A Sudanese man was shot and killed Thursday as he and other migrants returned to shore by the Libyan Coast Guard tried to resist being sent back to detention, the UN said.
The International Organization for Migration strongly condemned the incident and demanded that Libyan authorities investigate and bring those responsible to justice.
“This was tragedy waiting to happen,” IOM spokesman Leonard Doyle said in a statement.
“The use of live bullets against unarmed vulnerable civilians, men, women and children alike, is unacceptable under any circumstances and raises alarms over the safety of migrants and humanitarian staff,” he added.
The UN agency said its staff had been on site at the Abusitta Disembarkation point in Tripoli when as many as 103 migrants returned to shore resisted being sent back to Libyan detention centers.
When several migrants tried to run away from the guards, “armed men began shooting into the air,” and one migrant was hit by a bullet in the stomach, according to the IOM staff accounts.
“Despite immediately receiving medical aid on the spot by an IOM doctor and then being transferred to a nearby clinic, he died two hours after admission,” the agency said.
The man’s death, it said, stood as “a stark reminder of the grim conditions faced by migrants picked up by the Coast Guard after paying smugglers to take them to Europe.”
The UN and aid groups have warned that rescued migrants returned to Libya face rampant human rights abuses in both official and illegal centers in the war-ravaged country.
According to the UN, some 5,000 migrant women, children and men remain detained in inhumane conditions in Libya — more than 3,000 of them in areas of active conflict.
In June, an airstrike on the Tajoura detention center killed 53 migrants, including six children.
“That facility remains operational to this day, despite persistent calls to end the arbitrary detention of migrants,” IOM said.
“Alternatives to detention must be found,” it said, stressing that the “increasing reports of abuse and human trafficking from detention centers are truly alarming.”
IOM demanded “immediate action ... to put an end to the suffering of civilians in Libya, especially detained migrants.”