25 000 civilians have been killed in Iraq since invasion

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 21 July 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:176
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. London

    The number of civilians killed in the Iraq war from the invasion of 20 March 2003 to 19 March this year is 24 865, reports Iraq Body Count, an organisation that keeps track of reported deaths of civilians in Iraq. A further 42 500 civilians were reported wounded.

    The report is sure to generate controversy, not least because of its finding that the group responsible for killing the most civilians is the US armed forces and not insurgents or terrorists. The report also shows that the second year of the occupation has seen almost twice as many civilian casualties as the first.

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    A new report says that the group responsible for killing the most civilians (such as those pictured above) is the US armed forces

    Confidence is growing that the true count of violent deaths of civilians is around the 25 000 mark, says John Sloboda, a professor of psychiatry at Keele University, Staffordshire, and co-founder of Iraq Body Count.

    He said, “We still hear a lot about the famous and often mis-represented Lancet survey, but the UN development programme produced its 2004 Iraq living conditions survey in May based on a bigger representative sample [21 688 households]. That survey estimated a 95% confidence interval of 18 000 to 29 000 deaths, so we are smack in the middle of that, which is reassuring.

    “We are also within the confidence intervals of the Lancet study, which were 8000 to 194 000, so we aren't actually contradicting them. Moreover, they included non-violent deaths and were counting all cause excess mortality.”

    Iraq Body Count's principal method is to record all deaths that have been independently reported by two trusted sources, mostly Western media. But because the collapse in security has increasingly confined Western journalists to the protected “green zone,” the group has come to rely more on Iraqi journalists and particularly on Iraqi government sources, said Professor Sloboda.


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