Excess Death in Iraq
Excess Death in Iraq
It is the single most important statistic regarding the illegal US
invasion and occupation of Iraq. How many Iraqis have been killed?
655,000 Iraqis killed as a result of the
I have worked for eight months in Iraq as a journalist, witnessing the
carnage on a daily basis, visiting the morgues with bodies and body
parts piled into them, meeting family after family who had lost a loved
one, or more ... Finally, we get an accurate figure that shows how
immense the scale of the long drawn carnage really is.
The first Lancet Report, published on October 29, 2004, reported that
there were 100,000 "excess" Iraqi deaths as the result of the
invasion and occupation. (Excess deaths are the difference between
pre-invasion and post-invasion mortality rates.) Whenever I have given public presentations about the occupation, I have invariably found myself in a difficult position due to the lack of a more realistic and recent figure I can cite, knowing full well that the number was grossly higher than 100,000.
The least I could do was mention that Les Roberts, one of the authors of that report, is known to have said this past February that the number of Iraqi casualties could be over 300,000. And now, we know it is far higher, which merely confirms what most Iraqis already know.
In the context of the horror stories that have reached us over the
three-plus years of the occupation, this latest figure is not nearly as
shocking as when the first Lancet report was published in October of
2004. It has been abundantly clear since then that the number of Iraqis being killed by and because of the occupation has continued to increase exponentially.
The recent survey, like the first one, was conducted by Iraqi physicians and overseen by epidemiologists at
This study is the only one, other than the first study published in The
Lancet, that calculates mortality in
is a technique of "cluster sampling" also used to estimate mortality
caused by famines and after natural disasters.
The 2004 survey came under fire from pro-war critics and from the
supposedly anti-war group Iraq Body Count (IBC) which currently claims a ridiculously low figure between 44 and 49,000 dead Iraqis. In the past, the figure generated by IBC has been quoted by George W. Bush.
The controversial results of the first survey were backed by Bradley
Woodruff, a medical epidemiologist at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who was quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education on January 27, 2005: "Les [Les Roberts, co-author of the first survey] has used, and consistently uses, the best possible methodology ... Indeed, the United Nations and the State Department have cited mortality numbers compiled by Mr. Roberts on previous conflicts as fact - and have acted on those results. [He] has studied mortality caused by war since 1992, having done surveys in locations including
Further underscoring the validity and authenticity of the survey
methodology are two important facts: first, that the leg work has been conducted by eight Iraqi doctors and second, that the recent survey came up with the same estimate for immediate post-invasion deaths as the previous survey. Additionally, the figures are backed by official evidence as the greater majority of deaths were substantiated by death certificates.
Ronald Waldman, an epidemiologist at
Here it is worth recording that the survey's estimate of
pre-invasion death rate, which was used as the baseline of the survey, was roughly the same as the one used by both the CIA and the
As in the instance of the first survey, this study found that the actual
number of dead Iraqis could in fact be higher. The fact that this study
tabulated "excess deaths" implies that these people would still be alive
While the staggeringly high number of the dead may shock some, for
others who have kept track of facts it is no great wonder that surveyors have found a steady increase in Iraqi mortality since the invasion and a steeper increase in the last year. This alarmingly reflects the worsening violence which even the
Most of what we have heard reported, prior to this survey, had been
happening in the rest of the country is a question that the latest
survey answers: that there are approximately 500 unexpected violent
deaths every single day throughout
The survey found that 87% of the deaths had occurred during the
occupation rather than during the initial invasion, and that 31% of them were a consequence of attacks and air strikes by the coalition forces.
It was no surprise that Mr. Bush dismissed the findings of the study. He did not consider the report credible and said that the methodology used was "pretty well discredited." I'm sure that the feeble-minded Mr. Bush took a very close look at the methodology used in the study.
Last December, Bush claimed that 30,000 Iraqis had died as the result of the invasion and occupation. When reporters asked him if he still stood by his estimate, he said he stood by the figure that "a lot" of innocent people have died in the conflict.
One of my contacts in
/This is a mayday call to all colleagues around the world to STOP
writing about the Iraqi issue without having enough information from
reliable sources. People are getting killed here and the country is
virtually dying and it is not so human to rob the dead! IBC supposedly
worked to correct the number of Iraqis killed because of the
Salih Al-Jabiri is a 55-year-old human rights activist in Baghdad.
Jabiri, commenting on the figure offered by IBC at that time of roughly
30,000 dead Iraqis, the figure which was infamously quoted by Mr. Bush, said, "What difference does it make whether the number is 30,000 or 200,000 for God's sake? It is people's lives you are counting here, not farm chickens! Do you people mean we should be happy to believe US statistics of ONLY 30,000? But we are not happy with this insultingly low number, when all of us know the true number is so much higher!"
My aforementioned contact added more recently:
/Whatever the numbers the crime is still big enough to be condemned by all those who claim to be human beings. To our colleagues at IBC and those others who think the way they do, we say, be human enough to condemn the crimes of the occupation in Iraq or do not say you are humans./
For over a year now many Iraqis have been referring to what is happening in their country as genocide. With over 500 Iraqis being killed every single day as a direct result of the occupation, it is difficult to argue with them.
(c)2006 Dahr Jamail.
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