Syria in chaos

Submitted by Matthew on 27 March, 2013 - 9:09

The carnage in Syria continues with the regime unable to crush the rebels, and the rebels — despite making gains — unable to overrun the regime’s heartlands.

Although the figures are difficult to verify it seems likely that 60-70,000 have died in the conflict so far. Analysis of data by the London-based Syrian Observatory suggests two-thirds of the fatalities are civilians, and 2,300 are children under 18.

The Observatory states that over 14,000 security personnel have been killed in the fighting. Among those whose identities are unknown are over 1,000 opposition fighters, mostly — it is assumed — not Syrians.

The Observatory believes the number of fighters killed may be double the number they can verify because of the secrecy surrounding deaths suffered on both sides. They have not included some hundreds of people they suspect have died in prison during the conflict.

The death rate is now greater in Syria than in Iraq in 2006. According to one pro-opposition source, the Violations Documentation Centre, 4472 Syrians have been killed on average each month since December; an average of 149 Syrians killed per day. The equivalent figure in Iraq, in 2006, was 111 deaths per day; Syria’s population is two-thirds of Iraq’s.

The number of refugees who have left Syria is now over a million, from a population of 23 million. The Syrian Red Crescent thinks that — at a conservative estimate — 2.5 million are internally displaced.

Hunger and poverty are most acute in rebel held areas in the north. Foreign aid is mainly going into areas held by President Assad’s forces because of a UN restriction that stipulates donors obey rules set by governments. Assad has, for example, prevented aid crossing the Syria-Turkey border into rebel-held areas in the north.

In government controlled areas displaced people are helped in UN-run camps. However, the New York Times reports, “Ghassan Hitto, [who] runs the aid coordination arm of the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition, estimates that 60% of the Syrian population lives outside the Assad government’s control, and thus beyond the reach of most aid.”

Research carried out among refugee children by Bahcesehir University in Turkey shows one in three report having been punched, kicked or shot at.

A senior official from Save the Children reports meeting one child, now escaped to Turkey, who said he was in a prison cell with 150 people, including 50 children.

“He was taken out every day and put in a giant wheel and burnt with cigarettes. He was 15. The trauma that gives a child is devastating.”

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