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Friday, May 13, 2005

IRAQ’S DEAD COUNTED

Researchers surveyed 808 households for a study published last year by The Lancet which concluded that as many as 100,000 “excess deaths” had occurred in Iraq since liberation.

The UN has now released a survey of more than 21,600 households:

The invasion of Iraq and its aftermath caused the deaths of 24,000 Iraqis, including many children, according to the most detailed survey yet of postwar life in the country.

The UN report paints a picture of modern Iraq brought close to collapse despite its oil wealth. Successive wars, a decade of sanctions and the current violence have destroyed services, undermined health and education and made the lives of ordinary Iraqis dangerous and miserable.

The survey for the UN Development Programme, entitled Iraq Living Conditions Survey 2004, questioned more than 21,600 households this time last year. Its findings, released by the Ministry of Planning yesterday, could finally resolve the debate over how many Iraqis were killed in the war that overthrew the regime of Saddam Hussein in April 2003.

The 370-page report said that it was 95 per cent confident that the toll during the war and the first year of occupation was 24,000, but could have been between 18,000 and 29,000.

According to CNN, the UN survey was conducted throughout all of Iraq’s 18 provinces (the Lancet study examined 11). Also from CNN:

Iraq’s unemployment rate was 10.5 percent of a population of 27 million people, the report found.

That figure blows out to 18.4 percent when workers not looking for a job are included; the number of unemployed seeking work, however, compares reasonably well with data from France (unemployment: 9.4 percent).

While there has been progress since Saddam Hussein’s fall, “these data depict a very tragic picture of the quality of life,” Iraqi transitional Planning Minister Barham Salih said.

Salih said the mismanagement of Saddam’s government and his regime’s internal conflicts and those with its neighbors took a toll that spared no sector of the country’s infrastructure.

“Saddam Hussein has left us a wasteland,” Salih said. “This country could have been the economic powerhouse of the Middle East.”

And might well become so, in time, now that Saddam is gone and his sons are dead.

(Via Scott Campbell and Alan R.M. Jones)

UPDATE. Tim Worstall wonders why the new report isn’t getting much attention.

UPDATE II. Reader Tim Lambert writes: “The numbers are for different things. The 24,000 is for directly war-related deaths, while the 98,000 includes increases in disease, accidents and murder as well.”

Really? The UN report appears to claim that the two studies are directly comparable:

The ICLS data indicates 24,000 deaths, with a 95 per cent confidence interval from 18,000 to 29,000 deaths. The confidence level was estimated using a linearisation technique (using SPSS Complex Samples, version 12).

Another source (Roberts et al 2004) [the Lancet report] estimates the number to be 98,000, with a confidence interval of 8,000 to 194,000. The website “Iraq Body Count” estimates that between 14,619 and 16,804 deaths have occurred between the beginning of 2003 and 7 December 2004.

That’s from page 55 of the study’s analytical report (pdf file, at the above link).

UPDATE III. John Pilger hasn’t changed his script:

Published in the Lancet, the most highly regarded medical journal in the world, with the tightest peer-review procedures, the study found that “at least” 100,000 civilians had died violently ...

He’s never been good with numbers.

UPDATE IV. Reader Michael in comments: “My local newspaper (The West Australian - which has a very consistent ‘bad news’ slant on Iraq) on Saturday quoted the report extensively but left out the 24,000 deaths figure ...”

Posted by Tim B. on 05/13/2005 at 06:18 PM
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