German FM: Syria death toll reaches 5,000

Westerwelle speaks with UN human rights chief, says he's "shocked" by atrocities of people asking for their freedom.

December 12, 2011 22:34
2 minute read.
Guido Westerwelle

Guido Westerwelle. (photo credit: Reuters)

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Monday he understood 5,000 people had now been killed in Syria's crackdown on a nine-month-old uprising - a higher figure than other recent estimates.

"I am really shocked about what I heard about the atrocities in Syria. Five thousand people were killed, civilians, people who ask for their freedom and civil and human rights," he told reporters.

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Westerwelle was speaking after talks in New York with UN human rights chief Navi Pillay, but did not specifically say she had cited that figure. Pillay was due to brief the UN Security Council on Syria later in the day.

Pillay's latest public estimate - earlier this month - was more than 4,000 killed.

German officials said Westerwelle had intended to say 5,000.

Late last week, the UN repeated calls to allow humanitarian relief teams into the country in order to assess the predicament of its people.

"I repeat my call to the Syrian government to really let us in," said Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief.

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"We are concerned about the health impact of what is going on. We don't have a very clear picture across the country because we do not have the access that will enable us to know exactly what is going on," she told reporters in Stockholm.

"If, as the government say, they have nothing to hide, then I think allowing us in to see that that is the case and to do a proper assessment of what the implications of this are for the people of Syria is absolutely critical," Amos said.

She said the United Nations did not have the data to assess whether or not humanitarian corridors or buffer zones, as proposed by some concerned states, would be helpful.

"If we don't know where the needs are, where are we going to set up possible humanitarian corridors or buffer zones?"

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