UN: We've Stopped Updating Syria Death Toll

Says it can no longer verify 'source material'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 7, 2014 10:19 AM CST
In this Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 file photo, a man walks past dead bodies next to a river in the neighborhood of Bustan al-Qasr in Aleppo, Syria.   (AP Photo/Abdullah al-Yassin)

(Newser) – The UN's human rights office has stopped updating the death toll from Syria's civil war, confirming today that it can no longer verify the sources of information that led to its last count of at least 100,000 in late July. A spokesman for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights blamed the failure to provide new figures on the organization's own lack of access on the ground in Syria and its inability to verify "source material" from others.

Rupert Colville says 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 nongovernmental organizations in the region. "Over time, they've diminished in number," he says. "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." He added that 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 killed in violence in Syria since March 2011. (Read more Syria stories.)

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