NCF daily Report on Syria – Refugees / Casualties – Report dated 18 June 2012 (evening)
This report is the latest in our series on Syria.
Today’s report is in two parts:
Refugees – the displaced of Syria
The United Nations distinguishes between Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees, determining that only those that cross international boundaries are refugees. At the NCF we have always regarded this distinction as trite and demeaning. For the purposes of this report we will make no such distinction and will call a refugee a refugee.
The number of refugees keeps growing day by day and many of them lack basics like water, food and electricity. More than a million refugees have been displaced within Syria (says UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon) and still more have been displaced to neighbouring countries.
The latest figures would probably be much higher were they available but displacement is hard to track and document. Data from non-state sources is difficult to verify and the fluid nature of the conflict means that such data is sporadic. What is certain is that many refugees have crossed the borders into Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq or Jordan. According to the UNHCR in April there were over 61,000 Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries (Lebanon: 21,000, Jordan: 13,751, Turkey: 23,971 and Iraq: 2,376). By June these UNHCR totals were up to 77,199 (Turkey: 27,405, Lebanon: 20,702, Iraq: 4,941, Jordan: 24,151). The increase is steady for instance, the latest figures from the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) are now 28,139 Syrians refugees in Turkey alone, and the NCF observer stationed in Hatay province of Turkey reported that 2,000 Syrians arrived by bus yesterday and were distributed between the Reyhanli and Yayladagi camps.
All of the neighbouring states maintain an open borders policy, though refugee entrance into Jordan is a little more difficult.
Since the conflict erupted, many refugees have fled from hot spots across the country into “safer” areas. According to Wisam Elhamoui, Syrian researcher based in the UK presenting a paper this week at the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding, there is no specific pattern to the direction of the displacement that takes place. One would expect people to move from urban centres to rural areas, where it is supposed to be safer, but that is not always the case. Wisam has devised a system of mapping conflict zones, by labelling different zones according to the level of violence (for e.g. green for cold, orange for warm, and red for hot areas of conflict). Many people have fled into other dangerous ‘hot’ areas because they have relatives or friends that can help them. In Homs for instance, the Alawites and the Christians, fearing sectarian violence, moved to their original hometowns which sometimes were also hot spots like Dera'a. The economic factor is also important for people deciding to flee their homes. People with money tend to leave their homes at earlier stages of the conflict, while in poorer areas people stay longer.
The humanitarian crisis in Syria is catastrophic and the government’s response has made the situation even worse. According to the Syrian opposition think tank, the Observatory for Human Rights, there are currently at least a further 1,000 families in Homs that need to be evacuated immediately. On the other hand NCF sources in the Syrian Christian community suggest that 90% of the Christian population of Homs has already fled (many to the capital) to escape rebel persecution. Christians from nearby cities have also been persecuted. The crisis is becoming sectarian in nature and atrocities are now being committed by all sides. Though the Syrian government has now allowed some humanitarian aid into the country, nothing compares to the magnitude of the crisis. Organisations like the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and International Red Cross Committee are working together with other informal civil society groups but their work does not reach all areas where people relocate. There are emerging civil society groups but some, such as Ahl al-Sham in Damascus, are known to be linked to the government and have been used for propaganda (e.g. publicity images of Bashar al-Assad handing out aid parcels). Indeed, the refugees do not always want to accept assistance from NGOs “out of fear of registering their presence” or because they are not interested in being part of the political agenda of the government or opposition groups.
None the less, activists and rebels have taken charge of allocating refugees with homes and shelters. Churches, schools, workshop basements, hotels and the homes of fellow refugees have become some of the most used shelters.
The situation for refugees within Syria remains extremely difficult. Not only are they faced with the constant threat of violence, many face limited options for relief. Poorer civilians are likely to face greater difficulties due to economic and social restrictions. Their ability to escape to safer zones is limited by the size of their social network and their economic flexibility. Those wealthy enough to flee often have their empty houses taken over by squatters; which makes the issue of property ownership after the conflict difficult to resolve.
The numbers of reported rebel casualties tend to be lower than the reported pro government casualties. This could be due to the confusion between civilian casualties and rebel casualties, the poor media coverage or the rebels’ successful military tactics, which involve guerrilla tactics, avoiding direct confrontation with Syrian forces. The attacks mainly involve suicide bombings and small assaults designed to hinder the larger and less flexible Syrian army. All statistics have been taken from the London based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights.
TUESDAY 12TH JUNE 2012:
No rebel casualties reported
WEDNESDAY 13TH JUNE 2012:
Homs province- two rebel fighters killed, one in the neighbourhood of Jurat-Al-Shayyah and one in the town of Al-Qusayr. Hama province- one insurgent killed in Karm Al Hourani, whilst avoiding being detained by government forces. Dera’a province- three rebel fighters killed in the town of Al-Museifira
THURSDAY 14TH JUNE 2012:
Homs province- three rebel fighters killed, two during the bombardment of Rastan, one in the neighbourhood Jurat-Al-Shayyah. Aleppo province- rebel fighter killed in town of Atarib. Dera’a province- approximately ten “defected soldiers” killed. Three during military clashes, and seven during bombardments. One commander killed today – location undisclosed.
FRIDAY 15TH JUNE 2012:
Homs province- two “defected soldiers turned rebels” killed. Aleppo- one rebel fighter
SATURDAY 16TH JUNE 2012:
Dera’a – “defected lieutenant turned rebel leader” killed, as well as one other rebel fighter killed in an ambush set up by the Syrian army near the town of Khabib.
SUNDAY 17TH JUNE 2012:
Homs province- two rebel fighters killed during clashes with Syrian military forces. Deir Ezzor- leader of an armed opposition group killed
MONDAY 18TH JUNE 2012:
As of 15.30 GMT no rebel casualties reported
According to a BBC study covering the period from the beginning of the conflict to May 2012, there is a clear discrepancy in the number of casualties as reported by different sources.
· The Syrian Shuhada places the number of people dead (civilians and government forces) as the highest, with over 15,000 dead. The Violations Documentation Center (VDC), also known as the Center for Documentation of Violations in Syria, places second with an estimated 12,000 dead. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), places third.
· UN estimates are sporadic. They rely on several sources, and estimates are published intermittently. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has used the VDC and the SOHR as sources and do not prepare independent figures of their own.
TUESDAY 13TH JUNE 2012:
President of the Syrian Football Federation assassinated
SATURDAY 16TH JUNE 2012:
According to SOHR, at least 16 government forces were killed on 16 June. 6 died from a car explosion in the town of Kafrzeita, Reef Hama. 5 died during clashes in Homs province. 1 soldier was killed when an IED targeted a military bus in the Sina'iya area of Damascus. 4 were killed by clashes, and a targeted assassination, in Reef Damashq. 27 Syrian army and law-enforcement officers were buried on 16 June. The timing of their deaths is not documented.
SUNDAY 17TH JUNE 2012:
At least 26 government forces were killed on 17 June. A lieutenant was assassinated in Damascus, and the other deaths were in Reef Homs; Reef Dimashq; Sahl Alghab, Reef Hama; reef Deir Ezzor and an IED explosion in Reef Idlib.
MONDAY 18TH JUNE 2012:
According to SANA, 22 Syrian army and law-enforcement officers buried on 18 June. They were killed in Damascus Countryside, Homs, Idlib and Deir Ezzor. The timing of their deaths is not documented.
· According to SOHR, at least 59 government forces have been killed since 11 June. The Syrian Shuhada estimates that at least 1369 Syrian forces have been killed since the start of the conflict.
Over the past week, one difficulty has, as always, been distinguishing between rebel casualties and civilian casualties. Most rebel reports make no such distinction reporting all rebel casualties as civilian deaths. Figures from LCC/SOHR HAVE BEEN CONFLATED – WHERE FIGURES FOR INDIVIDUAL TOWNS CONFLICT THE LOWER FIGURE HAS BEEN TAKEN. However, figures for civilians killed were:
TUESDAY 12TH JUNE:
Aleppo-12, Daraa-4, Deir Izzor-16, Hama-1, Hasakeh-1, Homs-10, Idlib-1, Latakia-2, Rif Dimashq-1
WEDNESDAY 13TH JUNE:
Aleppo- 1, Damascus-1, Deir Izzor-10, Deraa-9, Hama-7, Homs-22, Idlib-6, Latakia-2, Raqqa-1
THURSDAY 14TH JUNE:
Aleppo-2, Bokamal-1, Damascus-2, Deir Izzor-1, Dera'a-6, Hama-1, Homs-16, Idlib-3 Latakia-1, Reef Dimashq-19
FRIDAY 15TH JUNE:
Aleppo-5, Damascus-1, Deir Izzor-1, Dera'a-8, Homs-9, Idlib-1, Latakia-1, Reef Dimashq-4
SATURDAY 16TH JUNE:
Aleppo-1, Deir Izzor-1, Dera'a-2, Hama-1, Homs-13, Idlib-5, Latakia-1, Reef Dimashq-34
SUNDAY 17 JUNE:
Aleppo -4, Dara'a-1 “killed under torture”, Deir Ezzor-5, Dimashq-2, Hama-4, Homs-13, Idlib-1 "civilian from the town of Khan Sheikhoon was shot by sniper fire", Reef Dimashq-13
MONDAY 18 JUNE:
Figures from Local Coordination Committees in Syria.
Aleppo-4, Damascus Suburbs-15, Damascus-3, Dara'a-5, Deir Ezzor-5, Hama-11, Homs-17
NCF Casualty estimates:
The best estimate we can make (and these figures may be slightly high because of the rumours on which they are in part based) is that over the past week ending 19 June (and in comparison with previous week ending 12 June):
Rebel dead- 41 (previous week 40)
Government dead- 53 reported (actual figure may be higher – figure for previous week was 92)
Civilian dead- 350 (previous week 105)