Civilian death toll in Iraq may have surpassed 1 million

March 25th, 2008 | Posted in Iraq, Corporate Media, Politics, War and Terror
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    Daily Star, Tuesday, March 25, 2008.

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    Photo: Displaced woman carries humanitarian aid from the Iraqi Red Crescent.

BAGHDAD: While the number of US troops killed in Iraq since the 2003 invasion stands at 4,000, up to three times as many Iraqi soldiers have died – and the number of civilians killed runs into tens and probably hundreds of thousands. The icasualties.org Web site, based only on published reports, shows that around 8,000 members of the Iraqi security forces have died since the March 2003 invasion. Last year, however, the Iraqi government put the figure at 12,000.

There is no agreement when it comes to civilian casualties, particularly as many deaths are never reported in the media.

In January, a joint UN World Health Organization and the Iraqi government study concluded that between 104,000 and 223,000 Iraqis had died violently since the invasion.

As of March 24, the independent Iraq Body Count Web site, based solely on incidents reported by the media, suggested close to 90,000 deaths, of which over a quarter died in 2007.

At the high end of the scale, British polling institute Opinion Research Business in a report published on January 30 estimated the total number of civilian deaths at between 946,000 and 1.12 million.

The Lancet, a respected British medical review, quoted a statistical survey which found that as of July 2006 some 655,000 more civilians had died than would have been the case if there had been no war.

The scars run deep in Iraqi society. Umm Mohammad, a 49-year-old widow in Baghdad’s western Mansur neighborhood whose husband was abducted and shot by gunmen 15 months ago, bitterly blamed the US military for the loss, which has profoundly affected her family.

Her two daughters, both in college, are still in mourning while her son, in secondary school, is so depressed he failed his exams last year. They have been forced to move in with her husband’s family to survive.

“Why does the world care so much about the 4,000 soldiers killed? No one cares about the Iraqis,” said Umm Mohammad, a Sunni Arab.

“All the killings in Iraq are because of the Americans. They are the cause of all the bloodshed. I ask God to kill all the American soldiers – to count them all and not leave any one of them,” she said. “The world regards the American soldiers as our saviors but they are murderers.”

As a grim reminder that civilian casualties are mounting relentlessly, the chief of Baghdad’s main morgue said Monday there had been a spike in the number of corpses received over the past fortnight amid a new wave of violence in and around the Iraqi capital.

The mortuary has received an average of 15 bodies per day of people killed in violent attacks in Baghdad in this period, up from an average of two bodies a day since the beginning of the year, said morgue general director Munjid Rezali.

Ivana Vuco, human rights officer for the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, said last month that tracking civilian deaths in Iraq was a “huge problem.”

“Some reports do not even come to us,” she said.

Among civilians who have died are those who have been accidentally killed in raids and air strikes by US-led forces while targeting insurgents.

Although there is no accurate count, according to the United Nations 123 civilian deaths alone were reported due to air strikes in the six-month period between July 1, 2007, and December 31, 2007.

According to icasualties.org, 308 soldiers from other countries who have formed part of the US-led coalition have been killed in Iraq since the invasion.

Among countries that still have forces in Iraq, the death tolls as of March 24 were: Britain, with 175 deaths; Poland, with 23 deaths; Ukraine with 18 deaths; Bulgaria, with 13 deaths; and Denmark, with eight deaths.

For countries that took part in earlier stages of the occupation, but have now withdrawn, the main losses were Italy with 33 deaths and Spain with 11.

According to the Journalists Freedom Observatory (JFO), which monitors violence against the media, 233 Iraqi and foreign journalists and media workers have been killed in Iraq since 2003. – AFP

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