UN to stop updating Syria death toll

2014-01-07 16:39
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at his office works the phones with world leaders on the situation in Syria. (Mark Garten, UN/AFP)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at his office works the phones with world leaders on the situation in Syria. (Mark Garten, UN/AFP)

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Geneva - The UN's human rights office has stopped updating the death toll from Syria's civil war, confirming on Tuesday that it can no longer verify the sources of information that led to its last count of at least 100 000 in late July.

Rupert Colville, a spokesperson for the UN office of the high commissioner for human rights, blamed the failure to provide new figures on the organisation's own lack of access on the ground in Syria and its inability to verify "source material" from others.

"It was always a very difficult figure", Colville said in answer to a question by The Associated Press. "It was always very close to the edge in terms of how much we could guarantee the source material was accurate. And it reached a point where we felt we could no longer cross that line. So for the time being, we're not updating those figures."

Colville said the total number of dead the UN had estimated was based on an exhaustive effort to verify six different figures supplied by a variety of non-governmental organisations in the region.

"Over time, they've diminished in number", he said. "For the past year or so, it's been down to two or a maximum of three, and we simply didn't feel that it was possible for us to continue in the same way."

But Colville said the UN could not endorse anyone else's count, including the widely quoted figures from the Britain-based Syrian observatory for human rights, whose latest tally is more than 130 000.

- AP
Read more on:    un  |  syria  |  syria conflict
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