01/10/2008, 00.00
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WHO: more than 150,000 civilian deaths in Iraq

A study by the World Health Organisation establishes the death of 151,000 Iraqis by violent causes, between 2003 and 2006. The figure is only an estimate, but it is based upon the most extensive study of this situation made in the country so far.
Geneva (AsiaNews/Agencies) - There were about 151,000 civilian victims of the war in Iraq between 2003 and 2006. This is established by the most extensive investigation conducted in the country so far, and was published today in the online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. The figures are the result of the combined work of the Iraqi government and of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The study covers the period from the beginning of the country's occupation, in March of 2003, to June of 2006, and is based upon interviews with 9,345 families in about a thousand neighbourhoods and villages throughout the country. The purpose of the investigation was to provide the Baghdad government with the basis for developing plans and policies in the health sector.
The survey reveals that violence became the leading cause of death for Iraqi adults after March of 2003, and the leading cause of death for men between the ages of 15 and 59. An average of about 128 Iraqis died of violent causes each day in the first year following the occupation, 115 per day in the second year, and 126 in the third. More than half of the violent deaths occurred in Baghdad.
The figures obtained by the WHO are lower than those released in October of 2006 by the journal Lancet, which published a study by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: on the basis of interviews with 1,800 families, this found that from 2003 there were 655,000 Iraqis killed by the war.
"There are a lot of uncertainties in making such estimates, and the results of the survey must be interpreted with caution", observes Mohamed Ali, the WHO statistician who co-authored the study. The first difficulty lies above all in the absence of comprehensive information relative to the registration of deaths, and of information from the hospitals.
For this reason, the results of the WHO survey must be considered an estimate. The authors themselves explain that on the whole, the numbers could vary between 104,000 and 223,000 violent deaths.
The best-known source for the numbers of civilian deaths in Iraq remains the independent project Iraq Body Count, which counts only the certified deaths: between 80,419 and 87,834 at the moment.
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