A new report by the United Nations shows that since the outbreak of the war in Syria, an unbelievably high number of over 306,000 civilians were killed due to the conflict.
The Syrian war, which began in March 2011, has plunged the Arab country into an all-out crisis ever since. And what makes matters even worse is that there seems to be no end in sight for it.
Besides the economic, political, and social drawbacks of the war on Syria, the humanitarian costs have also been huge. A recently released report by the UN Human Rights Office this Wednesday revealed that between March 1, 2011 to March 31, 2021, the war has left some 306,887 civilians killed. This number accounts for about 1.5% of the whole Syria’s population.
“The conflict-related casualty figures in this report are not simply a set of abstract numbers, but represent individual human beings,” said Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. “The impact of the killing of each of these 306,887 civilians would have had a profound, reverberating impact on the family and community to which they belonged,” he also added. What is worth mentioning here is that the above-mentioned figure does not include soldiers and fighters killed in the conflict, nor does it count people who were killed but buried by their families without notifying the Syrian authorities.
In yet another report by the UN, it was revealed that only in the previous 18 months, more than 100 people, including many women and children, have been killed in the Syrian camp of Al-Hol. This Kurdish-controlled northeast camp was supposed to be a temporary detention facility for the prisoners of the war. However, it still holds about 56,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq. “The Al-Hol camp is a very harsh place and it’s become increasingly unsafe,” says Imran Riza, the UN resident coordinator in Syria, adding that “There’s a great deal of gender-based violence … There’s a lot of no-go areas.”
How did Syria reach this point?
The first sparks of the decade-long war in Syria were ignited by an anti-government protest that started back in March 2011 and then spread in different parts of the country. It was in fact following the Arab Spring protests that erupted in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Libya and then Bahrain. Demanding political reforms, protesters even removed some national leaders who had been in power for decades in some of these countries.
But the story for Syria was different. Though the country didn’t experience a political upheaval, it went into a devastating war that is still ongoing.
Further, Syria also turned into a home for the terrorist organization called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The terrorist group was first founded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi back in 1999. But the Syria and Iraq’s unstable political situation paved the way for it to gain global prominence in 2014.
Since then, the United States has conducted countless number of airstrikes and deployed hundreds of troops in Syria under the pretext of fighting ISIS members. But Washington itself has been a huge participant in increasing the number of civilian casualties in Syria. On March 18, 2019, for example, the US Air Force carried out an airstrike in Syria which alone resulted in the killing of more than 80 civilians.
All in all, despite several peace talks in Geneva, Ankara, and Astana to put and end to the war in Syria, no political solution has yet been achieved. It is therefore feared that the continuation of the conflict can claim even more civilian lives.