Story highlights

More people have been displaced than live in Moscow; more people lost their homes than live in greater Boston

The WFP has cut food ration sizes by 30% for lack of donations

CNN  — 

Syria is a Hell on Earth that is expanding in plain sight.

The death toll there has doubled in a year’s time, if an opposition group is right.

Since civil war broke out there, 310,000 people have been killed, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday. A year earlier, SOHR’s tally stood at 162,402. And the year before, the United Nations put the death toll at 70,000.

Violence has plunged well over half of all Syrians into such destitution that they are in dire need of survival aid, the United Nations says, as food rations are being cut for lack of donations.

Numbers alone can’t convey the immeasurable anguish of millions, but maybe it can remind the rest of us of the magnitude of the world’s currently greatest tragedy.


The number of years since perpetual bloodshed began, since dictator Bashar al-Assad’s security forces fired on crowds of demonstrators and armed militant groups rose up against him in March 2011.

1% to 1.3%

Percentage of the Syrian population killed. It would be like killing 3 to 4 million Americans. The range comes from the SOHR’s death toll of 310,000 and a recent lower estimate by the U.N. of at least 220,000 dead.

12.2 million

The number of Syrians in need of immediate life-saving aid, according to the U.N. That’s the population of Moscow.

7.6 million

Syrians driven from their homes, the U.N. says. Imagine the entire Boston metropolitan area emptied out.

3.9 million

Syrians who have fled as refugees to neighboring countries, creating humanitarian and economic hardship across Syria’s borders. Turkey has taken in 1.7 million, Lebanon 1.2 million, Jordan 625,000, and Iraq 245,000.


The reduction in the size of food rations the World Food Programme says it has been forced to make due to a lack of donations. That means people receiving aid will get only 60% of the daily nutrition they need.