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With more than 191,000 dead in Syria, U.N. rights chief slams global 'paralysis'

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 7:59 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • New U.N. study concludes at least 191,369 people have died in Syrian conflict
  • U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay condemns "international paralysis" over Syria
  • The figure is probably an underestimate of the real total number of people killed, she says
  • Analysts could not determine if dead were fighters or not; 85% of deaths were of males

(CNN) -- It's a chilling figure: 191,369 men, women and children reported killed in Syria between March 2011 and the end of April 2014.

The figure, the result of a new analysis for the United Nations, is a significant increase on the last update provided by the United Nations, but even so it is probably less than the true number of those killed.

It prompted U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay to slam the inaction by the U.N. Security Council that has allowed the slaughter to continue unabated.

"The killers, destroyers and torturers in Syria have been empowered and emboldened by the international paralysis," she said in a statement Friday.

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A Syrian rebel fighter keeps an eye on government troops in Aleppo, Syria, on Wednesday, December 17. The United Nations estimates nearly 200,000 people have been killed in Syria since an uprising in March 2011 spiraled into civil war. A Syrian rebel fighter keeps an eye on government troops in Aleppo, Syria, on Wednesday, December 17. The United Nations estimates nearly 200,000 people have been killed in Syria since an uprising in March 2011 spiraled into civil war.
Syrian civil war in 2014
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Photos: Syrian civil war in 2014 Photos: Syrian civil war in 2014

"There are serious allegations that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed time and time again with total impunity, yet the Security Council has failed to refer the case of Syria to the International Criminal Court, where it clearly belongs."

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Pillay pointed out that the total number of killings is more than double the number documented a year ago.

But, she said, "tragically it is probably an underestimate of the real total number of people killed during the first three years of this murderous conflict."

She added, "I deeply 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."

The new U.N. figure is based on analysis of 318,910 reported killings, in which the name of the victim, as well as the date and location of the death, had to be documented. Five different sources of data were used to confirm details and exclude repetitions.

The largest number of documented killings was in the Damascus countryside, with nearly 40,000, with the next highest numbers recorded in Aleppo, with nearly 32,000, and Homs with just over 28,000.

About 85% of those killed were male and 9.3% were female. The analysis was not able to distinguish between combatants and noncombatants, the United Nations said.

At least 8,803 children are documented as having been killed, including more than a quarter who were under 10 years old. However, the real total is likely to be higher, the statement said, because the victims' ages have not been recorded in more than 80% of cases.

Pillay called for governments to take "serious measures to halt the fighting and deter the crimes, and above all stop fueling this monumental, and wholly avoidable, human catastrophe through the provision of arms and other military supplies."

Russia, a longstanding ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has repeatedly blocked U.N. sanction resolutions on Syria.

Both the Syrian government and the rebels they are fighting have been accused of serious human rights abuses.

READ: Militants in Syria put victims' heads on poles; hundreds killed daily

READ: Remember Syria? Some fear world losing interest

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