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Iraq's Shocking Human Toll: About 1 Million Killed, 4.5 Million Displaced, 1-2 Million Widows, 5 Million Orphans

By John Tirman

February 02, 2009 "The Nation" -- We are now able to estimate the number of Iraqis who have died in the war instigated by the Bush administration. Looking at the empirical evidence of Bush's war legacy will put his claims of victory in perspective. Of course, even by his standards -- "stability" -- the jury is out. Most independent analysts would say it's too soon to judge the political outcome. Nearly six years after the invasion, the country remains riven by sectarian politics and major unresolved issues, like the status of Kirkuk.

We have a better grasp of the human costs of the war. For example, the United Nations estimates that there are about 4.5 million displaced Iraqis -- more than half of them refugees -- or about one in every six citizens. Only 5 percent have chosen to return to their homes over the past year, a period of reduced violence from the high levels of 2005-07. The availability of healthcare, clean water, functioning schools, jobs and so forth remains elusive. According to Unicef, many provinces report that less than 40 percent of households have access to clean water. More than 40 percent of children in Basra, and more than 70 percent in Baghdad, cannot attend school.

The mortality caused by the war is also high. Several household surveys were conducted between 2004 and 2007. While there are differences among them, the range suggests a congruence of estimates. But none have been conducted for eighteen months, and the two most reliable surveys were completed in mid-2006. The higher of those found 650,000 "excess deaths" (mortality attributable to war); the other yielded 400,000. The war remained ferocious for twelve to fifteen months after those surveys were finished and then began to subside. Iraq Body Count, a London NGO that uses English-language press reports from Iraq to count civilian deaths, provides a means to update the 2006 estimates. While it is known to be an undercount, because press reports are incomplete and Baghdad-centric, IBC nonetheless provides useful trends, which are striking. Its estimates are nearing 100,000, more than double its June 2006 figure of 45,000. (It does not count nonviolent excess deaths -- from health emergencies, for example -- or insurgent deaths.) If this is an acceptable marker, a plausible estimate of total deaths can be calculated by doubling the totals of the 2006 household surveys, which used a much more reliable and sophisticated method for estimates that draws on long experience in epidemiology. So we have, at present, between 800,000 and 1.3 million "excess deaths" as we approach the six-year anniversary of this war.

This gruesome figure makes sense when reading of claims by Iraqi officials that there are 1-2 million war widows and 5 million orphans. This constitutes direct empirical evidence of total excess mortality and indirect, though confirming, evidence of the displaced and the bereaved and of general insecurity. The overall figures are stunning: 4.5 million displaced, 1-2 million widows, 5 million orphans, about 1 million dead -- in one way or another, affecting nearly one in two Iraqis.

By any sensible measure, it would be difficult to describe this as a victory of any kind. It speaks volumes about the repair work we must do for Iraqis, and it should caution us against the savage wars we are prone to. Now that Bush is gone, perhaps the United States can honestly face the damage we have wrought and the responsibilities we must accept from it.

John Tirman is Executive Director of MIT's Center for International Studies.


Click to view image: 'pictuers'

Added: Feb-2-2009 
By: ReadyRock2008
In:
Iraq, Middle East
Tags: Iraq, Death, Iraqis, American troops, dead babies, dead, adults, Shiite, Shia, Shi'ah,
Views: 10151 | Comments: 78 | Votes: 3 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 1 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
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  • It's shocking because it not true.

    Posted Feb-2-2009 By 

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  • This is BS. Not even the looney libs have the number anywhere close to this.

    And i'm no math-lete by any stretch but how can there be 2 million widows if only 1 million were killed????

    Posted Feb-2-2009 By 

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  • Comment of user 'DeathtoIslam' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • Comment of user 'christiandq' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • Comment of user 'DeathtoIslam' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
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  • Where were these douche bags when Saddam was gassing Kurdish villages and executing Shi'ites for fun, why are these trendoids only interested in people's wellbeing when there's a chance to lay the boot into the US? The country that over threw Saddam and now Iraq has democratic government.

    Posted Feb-2-2009 By 

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  • 1 million killed.

    5 million orphaned.

    You mean the average person killed had at least 5 kids at least? That's assuming everyone who got killed wasn't presiding over an enormous brood; otherwise we must assume that the average adult iraqi as 7 to 8 kids. What a crock of shit.

    Posted Feb-2-2009 By 

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  • Comment of user 'jsczerby' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • Hello clueless wonders.

    The FACT is war kills. Even if no one fires a shot people die every day a "war" goes on.

    And ALOT of shots were fired.

    Now the us most likely never targeted civilians.. but blackwater did and several other.. groups did. As did a ton of iraqis and iranians and and and.. Fact is several of the groups in irag are about as friendly to each other as the nazis and jews... As soon as saddam fell from power people started attacking those they hated. And More..

    Posted Feb-2-2009 By 

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  • A plate heat exchanger: is a type of heat exchanger that uses metal plates to transfer heat between two fluids.

    Posted Feb-3-2009 By 

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  • so how many Iraqis died in their war against Iran? During the same war, how many widows and orphans were there?
    How many Kurds did Sadam murder with chemical poison? And how many widows and orphans were there? (Probably none, as he killed everyone).
    How many Iraqis were tortured and murdered during the reign or Saddam, Usay and Nutsy?
    Since you are such an excellent researcher, the answer to my questions should be a piece of cake.

    Posted Feb-2-2009 By 

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  • lies lies lies.

    Posted Feb-2-2009 By 

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  • The dead ones obviously weren't glad to be liberated. How does the US feel, that along with Israels latest blunder, they have motivated another generation of Muslims to strap on those vests. It seems the only happy one is Osama's recruitment officer.

    Posted Feb-2-2009 By 

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    • pretty much what the 2006 NIE (National Intelligence Estimate) said about Iraq -- it has become a focal point for Muslim extremist recruitment

      the exact opposite of what Bush's gov't and their continued neocon followers here said would happen as a result of the invasion and war -- the airstrikes and torture scandal, the failed Reconstruction efforts, the refusal to leave after Saddam was arrested (and then executed on a religious holiday by Shiites), took all that trust away

      Posted Feb-2-2009 By 

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    • lol suck it up Iraq won freedom deal with it puss

      Posted Feb-2-2009 By 

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  • The irony of it all, is that a lot of those that died would probably still be alive today living in relative peace under Saddam.

    There is no honor in this war on either side, it is simply a tragedy that should have never happened.

    Posted Feb-2-2009 By 

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  • Comment of user 'StormUSA' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • "About 1 Million Killed" and "1-2 Million Widows"!

    Now that says something about cultural differences!

    Posted Feb-2-2009 By 

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  • Comment of user 'a1580082' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • agreed, i looked at just the number of people killed and the number of widows.

      We know that not just married men can be counted among the dead, and we can safely assume that not all men who did die were married. These numbers may make sense in Utah but not many other places.

      Posted Feb-2-2009 By 

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  • Notice these types always want to underestimate the number of Jews killed in Europe, but events like the Iraq war no overestimate is too much?

    Posted Feb-2-2009 By 

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  • muslims killed more Iraqis than U.S. Soldiers did.

    Posted Feb-9-2009 By 

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  • Comment of user 'gunny85' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • the UN's assessment is more honest than the Pentagon's -- the Pentagon said, more than once, that it doesn't keep track of Iraqi civilian or militant deaths (i doubt that's true but for media purposes they probably figured it was more advantageous to not put up any numbers)

    no statistic can be counted on 100 percent but the death toll and mass exodus out of there has to be higher than most conservative estimates, imo

    the "quiet victory in Iraq" that Aquina uploaded today is false, im More..

    Posted Feb-2-2009 By 

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  • .

    Posted Feb-2-2009 By 

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  • Yes, we can say we done good in Iraq, because OUR aims were achieved. Who gives a toss about what effect it had on the Iraqi people right?

    Posted Feb-2-2009 By 

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    • Yeah let's forget about the fact that they have voted for the first time in over 100 years. Let's forget about the fact that there are now more girls in school in Iraq than there has ever been. Let's forget those facts so we can just look at it from your narrow weak minded POV.

      Posted Feb-2-2009 By 

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    • What the f*ck is the point of voting in a puppet democracy when so many have died?? You really think the widows and orphans give two sh*ts about voting when they're families have been blown to bits? Dumbass.

      And you got balls bringing "facts" to me. There were probably more girls enrolled prior to your wars and sanctions than now. You utter imbecile, go read this link:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Iraq

      Iraqs Education back then was better than it is now.

      Leave fact More..

      Posted Feb-3-2009 By 

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  • I heard they were all liberals..... cool.

    Posted Feb-2-2009 By 

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