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Human toll of Syria's civil war echoes Rwandan genocide, says UN

Approximately 5,000 Syrians are dying each month, and an average of 6,000 people flee the country every day, UN officials reported Tuesday. Since the war began, nearly 93,000 people are dead, and 1.8 million have fled.

By Edith LedererAssociated Press / July 17, 2013

Special envoy Angelina Jolie (r.) speaks with Syrian refugees in a Jordanian military camp based near the Syria-Jordan border on June 18. 'We have not seen a refugee outflow escalate at such a frightening rate since the Rwandan genocide almost 20 years ago,' said a UN official on Tuesday.

O. Laban-Matte / United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees / AP

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UNITED NATIONS

An estimated 5,000 Syrians are dying every month in the country's civil war and refugees are fleeing at a rate not seen since the 1994 Rwanda genocide, U.N. officials said Tuesday.

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"In Syria today, serious human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity are the rule," said Ivan Simonovic, the assistant secretary-general for human rights, told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday.

He added that "the extremely high rate of killings ... demonstrates the drastic deterioration of this conflict."

U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres said two-thirds of the nearly 1.8 million Syrian refugees known to the agency have fled since the beginning of 2013, an average of over 6,000 daily.

"We have not seen a refugee outflow escalate at such a frightening rate since the Rwandan genocide almost 20 years ago," he said.

U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said at least 6.8 million Syrians require urgent humanitarian assistance and accused the government and opposition of "systematically and in many cases deliberately" failing their obligation to protect civilians.

"This is a regional crisis, not a crisis in Syria with regional consequences, requiring sustained and comprehensive engagement from the international community," Amos said by videoconference from Geneva.

"The security, economic, political, social, development, and humanitarian consequences of this crisis are extremely grave and its human impact immeasurable in terms of the long-term trauma and emotional impact on this and future generations of Syrians," she said. "We are not only watching the destruction of a country but also of its people."

Simonovic said that since U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay reported last month that at least 92,901 people had been killed between March 2011 when the conflict began and the end of April 2013, government forces and militias have moved to uproot the opposition in many areas including Qusair and Talkalkh, Aleppo, Damascus and its suburbs.

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