Wednesday, October 11, 2006

America's Death-Ladden Anti-Renaissance In Iraq

"A team of American and Iraqi public health researchers has estimated that 600,000 civilians have died in violence across Iraq since the 2003 American invasion, the highest estimate ever for the toll of the war here.

The figure breaks down to about 15,000 violent deaths a month, a number that is quadruple the one for July given by Iraqi government hospitals and the morgue in Baghdad and published last month in a United Nations report in Iraq. That month was the highest for Iraqi civilian deaths since the American invasion.

But it is an estimate and not a precise count, and researchers acknowledged a margin of error that ranged from 426,369 to 793,663 deaths.

It is the second study by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. It uses samples of casualties from Iraqi households to extrapolate an overall figure of 601,027 Iraqis dead from violence between March 2003 and July 2006.

The findings of the previous study, published in The Lancet, a British medical journal, in 2004, had been criticized as high, in part because of its relatively narrow sampling of about 1,000 families, and because it carried a large margin of error.

The new study is more representative, its researchers said, and the sampling is broader: it surveyed 1,849 Iraqi 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, they said.

The study comes at a sensitive time for the Iraqi government, which is under pressure from American officials to take action against militias driving the sectarian killings.

In the last week of September, the government barred the central morgue in Baghdad and the Health Ministry — the two main sources of information for civilian deaths — from releasing figures to the news media. Now, only the government is allowed to release figures." ...

Sabrina Tavernise and Donald G. McNeil, Jr. "Iraqi Dead May Total 600,000, Study Says" New York Times October 11, 2006

The Iraqi and American governments are now clamping down on statistical informational flows to cover the immense lose of civilian human life and human economic capital that the 2003-2007 U.S. invasion and occupation has caused the Iraqi people.

Photo credit: Khalid Mohammed and Associated Press via New York Times. With thanks.


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