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February 2007 Newsletter

Iraq Deaths, the Numbers Game


In mid-January, the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq reported that more than 34,000 civilians had died violently in Iraq in 2006—not including totals for the month of December. The report was based on numbers provided by morgues, hospitals, and municipal authorities across Iraq. It was immediately rejected by an Iraqi government spokesman, who said the report used “incorrect sources,” and that the civilian death count was much lower.

The number of Iraqi civilian deaths has long been a subject of dispute between the American and Iraqi governments on the one hand, and non-governmental sources on the other. In mid-2006, a survey published in Lancet which was conducted by Iraqi physicians and overseen by epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, set the number of civilian deaths related to war and occupation since March 2003 at 655,000. U.S. government spokesmen treated this estimate with derision and asserted the civilian death toll was about 30,000 over the same time period.

Clearly, accurate information is hard to obtain, but one fact seems inescapably clear: Iraqi civilians are dying by the tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands who, even with U.S. sanctions in place, would be alive today were it not for the U.S. invasion and occupation.

With this fact in mind, we call for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops and civilian personnel and massive reparations to the Iraqi people.

The Lancet Report

(back to February 2007 Newsletter front page)