UNITED NATIONS — More than 5,000 people have died in the nine-month-long Syrian uprising, U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay said Monday.
Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, told reporters Monday that she told Security Council members of the dramatic increase in deaths during an afternoon briefing.
The death toll used by the U.N. in recent weeks has been around 4,000.
Pillay said she recommended that the council refer Syria to the International Criminal Court, the permanent war crimes tribunal, for investigation of possible crimes against humanity.
At least 300 children are among the dead, and there are thousands of people in detention, Pillay said.
She noted that the last time she briefed the council on Syria, in August, the death toll was at about 2,000.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said Pillay's briefing "underscores the urgency of the present moment."
"Through condemnations issued by the U.N. General Assembly and Human Rights Council and bold steps taken by the Arab League and the government of Turkey, international bodies are starting to match their severe disapproval of Syria's bloody crackdown with concrete steps to bring it to an end," Rice said. "It is past time for the U.N. Security Council to do the same."
The representatives of France, Britain, Portugal and Germany also said it was time for the council to take strong action on Syria.
Strike in Syria: Meanwhile, Syrians closed their businesses and kept children home from school Monday as part of a general strike, a powerful show of civil disobedience to pressure President Bashar Assad to end his 9-month-old crackdown on the popular uprising.