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655,000: The toll of war in Iraq
by UK Independent (reposted)
Thursday Oct 12th, 2006 9:06 AM
Survey suggests violent death rate in Iraq is now running at one every three minutes
The human cost of the war in Iraq could be far higher than previously thought. A new survey says more than 650,000 Iraqis have lost their lives as a consequence of the invasion by the United States and Britain, with an estimated 200,000 violent deaths directly attributable to Allied forces.

The new figure is much larger than all previous estimates - more than 20 times higher than President George Bush claimed 11 months ago - and will add considerable weight to the calls of those seeking a withdrawal of troops.

The 654,965 deaths estimated to have resulted from the invasion represent about 2.5 per cent of the Iraqi population. It means people have been dying at a rate of about 560 a day, equivalent to one death every three minutes, or less

Two years ago, a study by Dr Les Roberts and a team from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, estimated that at least 100,000 Iraqis had been killed as a result of the war. This new survey, conducted by the same team and based on similar methodology but using a larger sample, suggests the situation is getting worse rather than better - a conclusion at odds with claims made by President Bush.

Dr Roberts said: "Yes [this finding was a surprise]. I didn't realise that things there were twice as bad as when we carried out our first survey in 2004. I did not know it was that much." Dr Roberts said he expected there would be many who would seek to undermine the report, as happened two years ago. But he said: "Let's have these people tell us what we have done wrong and what the true numbers are. Our study is pretty easy to verify. If they go to a graveyard in a small village and ask how many people are being put in the ground..."

The survey was overseen by epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health. Epidemiology is considered a cornerstone methodology for public health research, and is highly regarded in evidence-based medicine.

The study, published by The Lancet, was based on a survey of 1,849 households at 47 random locations in Iraq this summer. A team of Iraqi doctors asked heads of households how many members had lost their lives in the year before the invasion in March 2003 and then in the three subsequent years.

In 92 per cent of the 87 per cent of households where the questioners asked to see death certificates, the households were able to provide them.

The findings were then extrapolated to match the total estimated population of Iraq. The survey concluded Iraq's mortality rate has increased from 5.5 people per 1,000 prior to the invasion to 13.3 in the period since.

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by UK Guardian (reposted)
Thursday Oct 12th, 2006 9:09 AM
The death toll in Iraq following the US-led invasion has topped 655,000 - one in 40 of the entire population - according to a major piece of research in one of the world's leading medical journals.

The study, produced by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore and published online by the Lancet, claims the total number of deaths is more than 10 times greater than any previously compiled estimate.

The findings provoked an immediate political storm. Within hours of its release, George Bush had dismissed the figures. "I don't consider it a credible report," he told reporters at the White House. "Neither does General Casey [the top US officer in Iraq], neither do Iraqi officials."

The Foreign Office also cast doubt on the findings, stating that the government preferred to rely on the body count of the Iraqi ministry of health, which recorded just 7,254 deaths between January 2005 and January 2006.

But the US researchers have the backing of four separate independent experts who reviewed the new paper for the Lancet. All urged publication. One spoke of the "powerful strength" of the research methods, which involved house-to-house surveys by teams of doctors across Iraq.

The Johns Hopkins researchers published an earlier study in the Lancet in October 2004, which caused similar shock waves. They say the new work validates the old and shows an alarming escalation in violent deaths.

Nearly a third of the deaths (31%) were ascribed to the coalition forces. Most of the deaths - 601,000 out of 655,000 - were due to violence and of those, 56% were caused by gunshot wounds. Air strikes, car bombs and other explosions accounted for a further 13-14%.

For reasons involving their own safety, the doctors did not probe whether those who died were combatants or civilians. Deaths due to disease have also risen as the conflict has damaged Iraq's health services.

The authors say their discovery that the death rate in Iraq has more than doubled from 5.5 per 1,000 a year before the invasion to 13.3 per 1,000 a year since "constitutes a humanitarian emergency".

"Although such death rates might be common in times of war," write the authors, Professor Gilbert Burnham and colleagues, "the combination of a long duration and tens of millions of people affected has made this the deadliest international conflict of the 21st century and should be of grave concern to everyone.

"At the conclusion of our 2004 study we urged that an independent body assess the excess mortality that we saw in Iraq. This has not happened.

"We continue to believe that an independent international body to monitor compliance with the Geneva conventions and other humanitarian standards in conflict is urgently needed. With reliable data, those voices that speak out for civilians trapped in conflict might be able to lessen the tragic human cost of future wars."

Yesterday the Foreign Office repeated the government's criticism of two years ago. "We will be looking at it in more detail but it is a fairly small sample they have taken and they have extrapolated across the country," said a spokesman.

"We rely on the Iraqi government themselves. They are producing their own figures these days. Our position at the moment is that whatever figures we see, all these civilian deaths are a tragedy and of great concern to us. The multinational forces and the international community have to support a democratically elected government which is trying to stamp out the violence."

The US defence department said that it always regrets the loss of life anywhere. "The coalition takes enormous precautions to prevent civilian deaths and injuries," said its spokesman, Mark Ballesteros.


by IOL (reposted)
Thursday Oct 12th, 2006 9:17 AM
CAIRO — A team of American and Iraqi epidemiologists estimates that655 , 000more people have lost their lives since the US-led troops invaded the Arab country in March 2003 than would have otherwise happened, the highest death toll ever since the invasion.

"We estimate that as of July,2006 , there have been 965 654 excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war, which corresponds to2 ·5% of the population in the study area," said the study, conducted between May 20 and July10 , and published online Wednesday, October11 , by the British medical journal the Lancet.

"Of post-invasion deaths,601 , 027were due to violence, the most common cause being gunfire."

The study was conducted10 by eight Iraqi physicians and overseen by Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health.

It surveyed1 , 849Iraqi families in 47 different neighborhoods across Iraq. The selection of geographical areas in 18 regions across Iraq was based on population size, not on the level of violence.

The study found a steady increase in "excess deaths" since the invasion, with a steeper rise in the last year that appears to reflect a worsening of violence.

"The number of people dying in Iraq has continued to escalate. The proportion of deaths ascribed to coalition forces has diminished in2006 , although the actual numbers have increased every year."

In the year ending in June, the team calculated Iraq's mortality rate to be roughly four times what it was the year before the war.

The study breaks down to about15 , 000violent deaths a month, a number that is quadruple the one for July given by Iraqi government hospitals and the morgue in Baghdad. That month was the highest for Iraqi civilian deaths since the invasion.

The new survey comes as fire is still blazing at a US base in Baghdad, known as Forward Operating Base Falcon.

The US army said this was caused by a mortar attack that triggered a series of massive explosions in an ammunition dump in the base.

The human rights office of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) warned in a report on September 21 that civilian torture and killing in Iraq is surging in an alarming daily rate in detention centers as well as by rampant sectarian-oriented militias across the country.


The study estimate is more than 20 times the estimate of30 , 000civilian deaths President George Bush gave in a speech in December.

It is also 10 times higher than the estimate of roughly50 , 000civilian deaths made by the British-based Iraq Body Count research group.

"I expect that people will be surprised by these figures," Sarah Leah Whitson, an official of Human Rights Watch in New York commented on the study to the Washington Post.

Whitson said that there was no reason to question the findings or the accuracy of the survey.

"I think it is very important that, rather than questioning them, people realize there is very, very little reliable data coming out of Iraq."