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Body Count

Cawill James
Date Published: 
February 01, 2005
    Two recent research teams has shown violence has become the leading cause of death in Iraq with some 100K “excess” deaths occurring in Iraq under US occupation.

A growing record of studies indicate that tens of thousands of Iraqis, soldiers, civilians, and children had their lives cut short by the ongoing US/UK occupation. As combat continues in an endless sequence of besieged towns and cities, firebombed police stations, and villages struck from the air, these chronicles of death force the reality of war and the choices of empire onto our minds. From the beginning of the invasion, has provided a base level reading of the toll of war. As of November 25, 2004, IBC’s estimate stood at 14,515 to 16,673 civilian deaths. By relying on media reports of violence as well as morgue, hospital and survey records and by carefully excluding combatants, produces a universally acceptable estimate of the scale of human tragedy. They and others acknowledge the final toll may be far higher. A still substantial, but rarely discussed, part of the dead are Iraqi soldiers killed during the invasion. While parts of the military collapsed due to desertion, many conscripts remained at the front. The invading forces did not observe any obligation to bury the dead, and reporters observed rotting corpses along their way. A Project on Defense Alternatives study estimated 9200 (+/-17.5%) Iraqis in uniform were killed by May 1, 2003. A research team led by the Center for Emergency Disaster and Refugee Studies at Johns Hopkins obtained the first overall data on mortality and the causes and risk of death. For 13 days in September 2004, they painstakingly interviewed 988 randomly chosen households in 33 locations across Iraq. Overall, an Iraqi was 50 percent more likely to die after the invasion than before; violence has now become the leading cause of death; and some 100,000 excess deaths have occurred. All of these conclusions were drawn after excluding data from the devastated Fallujah neighborhood they visited. While much has been made of the wide margin of error in their total figure, the data point to causes of death likely to have been ignored by the others. For instance, many pregnant women no longer risk the trip to the hospital. Among the 366 births accounted for in the survey, three infants died at home for lack of medical care, and another three perished in US/UK bombings. Dr. Les Roberts and his colleagues pushed to have their study peer reviewed and published by the prestigious journal Lancet in advance of the election, but their findings were ignored by the major candidates. Just a week after the report was published, American troops seized the Fallujah hospital as a potential source of “enemy propaganda”: documentation of the dead and wounded in the coming invasion. The Wages of War: Iraqi Combatant and Noncombatant Fatalities in the 2003 Conflict Iraq Body Count