United Nations figures published on Wednesday suggest that more than 60,000 people have been killed in Syria’s 22-month conflict.
The toll is far higher than the figure of 45,000 given by activists opposed to the regime of President Bashar Assad. Analysis of casualty statistics documented the intensification of the Syrian civil war, and showed that an average of 1,000 people were killed per month in the summer of 2011 and that this rose to an average of more than 5,000 per month since July 2012.
The UN’s human rights office in Geneva said experts compared death reports from seven different sources including the government and came up with a list of 59,648 individuals killed between the start of the uprising on March 15, 2011, and November 30, 2012.
In each case, the victim’s first and last name, the date and the location of their death were known.
“Given there has been no let-up in the conflict since the end of November, we can assume that more than 60,000 people have been killed by the beginning of 2013,” UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said in a statement Wednesday.
“The number of casualties is much higher than we expected, and is truly shocking,” she said.
The Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition human rights group, reported that at least 151 Syrians were killed on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency said Wednesday that about 84,000 people fled the escalating civil war in Syria in December alone, bringing the total number of those displaced since the beginning of the 22-month-old conflict to around half a million.
The agency said that the number of registered refugees rose from about 394,000 to 478,000 within a month. If those still awaiting registration are included, around 569,000 people have fled Syria for neighboring countries.
It says Turkey hosts the largest group of registered Syrian refugees, totaling almost 150,000 as of Jan. 1. Some 130,000 people have fled to Lebanon, and another 120,000 to Jordan. Iraq hosts some 68,000 refugees.