GENEVA — The number of dead in Syria’s civil war more than doubled in the past year to at least 191,000, the United Nations human rights office said Friday. The agency’s chief, Navi Pillay, bluntly criticized Western nations, saying their inaction in the face of the slaughter had “empowered and emboldened” the killers.
In its third report on Syria commissioned by the United Nations, the Human Rights Data Analysis Group identified 191,369 deaths from the start of the conflict in March 2011 to April 2014, more than double the 92,901 deaths cited in their last report, which covered the first two years of the conflict.
“Tragically, it is probably an underestimate of the real total number of people killed during the first three years of this murderous conflict,” Ms. Pillay said in a statement that accompanied the report, which observed that many killings in Syria were undocumented.
The report was confined to counting individuals who had been identified by name, along with the date and location of their death, using data from five organizations that was screened to avoid duplication. It did not include nearly 52,000 deaths that were recorded but lacked sufficient detail.
At a briefing later in the day, Rupert Colville, a spokesman for Ms. Pillay, said the number of deaths was “indicative” rather than “gospel truth,” adding that, “It’s incredibly important that the world has an idea of the scale of the killing.”
Men, including combatants and civilians, accounted for more than 80 percent of the casualties, according to the report. Most of the documented deaths did not specify the age of the victims, but where that information was available the report identified 8,803 people under the age of 18, including 2,165 children under 10.
Ms. Pillay expressed deep regret that “given the onset of so many other armed conflicts in this period of global destabilization, the fighting in Syria and its dreadful impact on millions of civilians has dropped off the international radar.”
It was “scandalous,” she said, that the enormity of the suffering in Syria no longer attracted much international attention. The fact the crisis had been allowed to continue so long, with no end in sight, and was now spilling into neighboring Iraq and Lebanon was “an indictment of the age we live in,” she said.
With little more than a week left until she leaves her position as the high commissioner for human rights, Ms. Pillay reserved some of her harshest words for the world powers on the United Nations Security Council. “The killers, destroyers and torturers in Syria have been empowered and emboldened by the international paralysis,” she said.
Her statement echoed blunt criticisms of the Security Council that Ms. Pillay delivered to its members on Monday, venting frustrations increasingly voiced by the leaders of United Nations agencies and international aid groups that are struggling to keep up with the humanitarian fallout from conflicts around the world.
“There has not always been a firm and principled decision by members to put an end to crises. Short-term geopolitical considerations and national interest, narrowly defined, have repeatedly taken precedence over intolerable human suffering and grave breaches of — and long-term threats to — international peace and security,” Ms. Pillay told the Security Council. “I firmly believe that greater responsiveness by this Council would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. “