Iraq war death toll may be more than in 25 years of Saddam brutality

By staff writers
October 12, 2006

Iraq war death toll may be more than in 25 years of Saddam brutality

-12/10/06

Astonishing new on-the-ground research published in todayís edition of The Lancet by a US university team suggests that an estimated 655,000 Iraqis may have died since the 2003 US-led invasion ñ people who would otherwise be alive today.

The survey compares mortality rates before and after the war from 47 randomly chosen areas in Iraq. The overall fatality figure is far higher than estimates by official sources or the number of deaths reported in the media and by other lobby or academic groups.

Even at the extremes of statistical variability, the death figure extrapolated from the verified data ñ interviews in which claims and causes of death were matched against death certificates and confirmed reports ñ would be some 300,000 people

The research findings were immediately dismissed by supporters of the war in Iraq, including US President George W Bush. They have also begun to cause outrage in the Muslim world.

Church opponents of the war are saying that it highlights the extraordinary catastrophe of a conflict which was supposed to be about eliminating a dictatorship, backing human rights, promoting democracy and ensuring regional and global security.

John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHBSPH) estimate that the mortality rates have more than doubled since the invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein, causing an average of 500 deaths a day.

It sis being suggested that more people may have died in three years than in 25 years of the brutal Saddam Hussein dictatorship. Tonight anti-war activists described the findings as ìdisgracefulî.

In the recent past, President Bush has put the civilian death toll in Iraq at 30,000. Only hours after details of the latest research were published he dismissed the methodology as ìpretty well discreditedî.

But John Hopkins researchers argue their statistical approach is more reliable than counting dead bodies, given the obstacles preventing more comprehensive fieldwork in the violent and insecure conditions of Iraq, reports the BBC.

Researchers spoke to almost 1,850 families, comprising more than 12,800 people in dozens of 40-household clusters around the country. Of the 629 deaths they recorded among these families since early 2002, 13% took place in the 14 months before the invasion and 87% in the 40 months afterwards.

A trend like this repeated nationwide would indicate a rise in annual death rates from 5.5 per 1,000 to 13.3 per 1,000 - meaning the deaths of some 2.5% of Iraq's 25 million citizens in the last three-and-a-half years. It is the extrapolation that will occasion interpretatative disputes about assumptions and margins of error.

The survey updates earlier research using the same "cluster" technique which indicated that 100,000 Iraqis had died between the invasion and April 2004 - a figure also published in the respected medical journal The Lancet. This was also dismissed by many supporters of the US-led coalition.

Critics point to the discrepancy between this and other independent surveys (such as Iraq Body Count's figure of 44-49,000 civilian deaths, based on media reports), but the Bloomberg School team says its method may actually underestimate the true figure.

The survey claims that most of the extra deaths - 601,000 - would have been the result of violence, mostly gunfire, and suggests that 31% could be attributable to action by US-led coalition forces.

Iraq war death toll may be more than in 25 years of Saddam brutality

-12/10/06

Astonishing new on-the-ground research published in todayís edition of The Lancet by a US university team suggests that an estimated 655,000 Iraqis may have died since the 2003 US-led invasion ñ people who would otherwise be alive today.

The survey compares mortality rates before and after the war from 47 randomly chosen areas in Iraq. The overall fatality figure is far higher than estimates by official sources or the number of deaths reported in the media and by other lobby or academic groups.

Even at the extremes of statistical variability, the death figure extrapolated from the verified data ñ interviews in which claims and causes of death were matched against death certificates and confirmed reports ñ would be some 300,000 people

The research findings were immediately dismissed by supporters of the war in Iraq, including US President George W Bush. They have also begun to cause outrage in the Muslim world.

Church opponents of the war are saying that it highlights the extraordinary catastrophe of a conflict which was supposed to be about eliminating a dictatorship, backing human rights, promoting democracy and ensuring regional and global security.

John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHBSPH) estimate that the mortality rates have more than doubled since the invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein, causing an average of 500 deaths a day.

It sis being suggested that more people may have died in three years than in 25 years of the brutal Saddam Hussein dictatorship. Tonight anti-war activists described the findings as ìdisgracefulî.

In the recent past, President Bush has put the civilian death toll in Iraq at 30,000. Only hours after details of the latest research were published he dismissed the methodology as ìpretty well discreditedî.

But John Hopkins researchers argue their statistical approach is more reliable than counting dead bodies, given the obstacles preventing more comprehensive fieldwork in the violent and insecure conditions of Iraq, reports the BBC.

Researchers spoke to almost 1,850 families, comprising more than 12,800 people in dozens of 40-household clusters around the country. Of the 629 deaths they recorded among these families since early 2002, 13% took place in the 14 months before the invasion and 87% in the 40 months afterwards.

A trend like this repeated nationwide would indicate a rise in annual death rates from 5.5 per 1,000 to 13.3 per 1,000 - meaning the deaths of some 2.5% of Iraq's 25 million citizens in the last three-and-a-half years. It is the extrapolation that will occasion interpretatative disputes about assumptions and margins of error.

The survey updates earlier research using the same "cluster" technique which indicated that 100,000 Iraqis had died between the invasion and April 2004 - a figure also published in the respected medical journal The Lancet. This was also dismissed by many supporters of the US-led coalition.

Critics point to the discrepancy between this and other independent surveys (such as Iraq Body Count's figure of 44-49,000 civilian deaths, based on media reports), but the Bloomberg School team says its method may actually underestimate the true figure.

The survey claims that most of the extra deaths - 601,000 - would have been the result of violence, mostly gunfire, and suggests that 31% could be attributable to action by US-led coalition forces.

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