New UN report counts 191,369 Syrian-war deaths — but the true toll is probably much higher

Vox: A new UN report says that at least 191,369 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict so far. That number is astounding: it is the equivalent of the entire population of Salt Lake City being wiped out, or Tallahassee. However, the true number of casualties is almost certainly much higher.

Patrick Ball, Executive Director of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group and one of the report’s authors, explained to me that this new report is not a statistical estimate of the number of people killed in the conflict so far. Rather, it’s an actual list of specific victims who have been identified by name, date, and location of death. (The report only tracked violent killings, not “excess mortality” deaths from from disease or hunger that the conflict is causing indirectly.)

To be included in the report, a death had to be identified and documented by one of the five organizations gathering data on the ground in Syria: the Syrian Center for Statistics and Research, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, the Violations Documentation Centre, the Syrian government, or the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The report does not extrapolate from that data to determine an overall estimate of deaths from the conflict. That means that it is almost certainly an undercount, and the true death toll could be thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands higher. [Continue reading…]

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