655,000: The toll of war in Iraq
Iraq war has killed at least 650,000 Iraqi civilians so
Survey suggests violent death rate in Iraq is now running at one
every three minutes. [The war has already killed at least 1 Iraqi for
every 40 in the population.]
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.
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.
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
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
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.
The survey also found the
overwhelming majority of the 650,000-plus deaths between March 2003 and
July 2006 were "violent deaths" and included civilians, insurgents and
Iraqi security forces. About 75 per cent were men. About 50,000 deaths
were attributed to other causes such as a disrupted health service, the
exodus of doctors, insufficient water supplies and disruption to
infrastructure - all related to the war.
Of the 601,027 violent
deaths, 31 per cent were directly attributed to Allied forces, with 24 per
cent attributed to "other" causes and 45 per cent attributed to an
Fifty-six per cent of all violent deaths were
caused by gunshots, 13 per cent by car bombs, 14, per cent by other
explosions and 13 per cent by air strikes. The number of people killed by
car bombs increased markedly between June 2005 and June 2006, as did the
total violent deaths.
"In Iraq, as with other conflicts, civilians
bear the consequences of warfare," the survey's authors concluded. "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."
The US and Britain have
long insisted they have not recorded Iraqi death figures. Yesterday, Mr
Bush sought to dismiss the survey, claiming without elaboration that its
methodology was flawed. "I don't consider it a credible report. Neither
does General George Casey [the commander of US forces in Iraq] and neither
do Iraqi officials," he said.
"I do know a lot of innocent people
have died, and that troubles me. And it grieves me. And I applaud the
Iraqis for their courage in the face of violence."
Office - which also questioned the previous mortality survey's findings -
said it was studying the report. It claimed continuing violence in Iraq
meant troops had to remain to support the Iraqi government.
said the survey confirmed US and British forces were part of the problem.
The Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell, said: "Time is running
out. There is a desperate need for a new strategy led not by the US, but
by the UN, providing for a peace process with a reinvigorated
reconstruction programme and concerted... engagement."
Murray, chairperson of the Stop the War Coalition said every night people
were confronted with images of carnage from Iraq. "Two years ago, some
people were willing to believe it was going to work out for the best but
it has become all too obvious that is not the case," he said.
McDonnell, chairman of the Socialist Campaign group of MPs, said: "The
absolutely shocking scale of casualties The Lancet has revealed
demonstrates the disastrous decision of the Cabinet to back Bush's
decision to invade Iraq."
In the US, the Iraq war is one of the key
issues of November's mid-term elections in which the Democrats are seeking
to break the Republican stranglehold. Polls suggest Democrats could seize
control of the House and possibly the Senate.
When The Lancet first published research claiming that the
death toll in Iraq had reached 100,000 in the 18 months since the
invasion, the reports unleashed a political firestorm. The figure, based
on data collected by scientists in Baltimore, was far above any official
estimate then available.
The British Government, and the Pentagon,
tried to cast doubt on the research, but it prompted calls for a full
inquiry into the scale of civilian deaths since the invasion. There is,
however, still no official estimate of the death toll among Iraqi
The Independent, "655,000: The toll
of war in Iraq", front page, 12 October 2006.
The Guardian, "One in 40 Iraqis 'killed since invasion'",
front page, 12 October 2006.
US and Britain reject journal's finding that death toll has topped
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
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.
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
The Foreign Office also cast doubt on the
findings, stating that the government preferred to rely on the body count
of the [puppet regime's] Iraqi ministry of health, which recorded just
7,254 deaths between January 2005 and January 2006.
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 Insider" mailing list
article, 12 October 2006.
Iraq death-toll 650 000 thousand civilians killed
independent survey University experts study conspiracy