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UN estimates Iraq death toll

Posted by Richard on May 14, 2005

Tim Blair contrasted last year’s pre-election Lancet study of Iraq deaths with the newly-released UN study:

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 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).

The Lancet study was garbage, which should be obvious from its 95% CI of 8,000 to 194,000. But even the methodologically much better UN study has a rather wide CI. And the commenters to Tim’s post made some good points that put even the 24,000 number into perspective. TimShell noted:

It would be nice if we knew how many of the 24,000 dead were Baathists and terrorists who were killed fighting coalition troops.

zeppenwolf had a similar thought:

How many of those were from “insurgents” blowing themselves up in a car-bomb?

Honestly, are we morally responsible for those deaths?  The guys who blow up one car, then blow up another nearby as soon as people come running up to help?

kipwatson made some quick top-of-the-head guesstimates of combatant deaths and innocents killed by combatants:

I would be very surprised if the forces of good haven’t destroyed at least 15-20 thousand terrorists and fascists. Probably many many more, although a large component were non-Iraqis who might not show up in the figures.

The terrorists and fascists themselves must have murdered at least 10,000 of their countrymen. But the blame for that rests entirely with them and not a bit with the Coalition. Besides, from all accounts this is still a far lower figure than the number of innocents murdered during an equivalent period of Baathist rule.

He concluded that coalition forces killed very few innocents. I suspect his estimates of dead combatants and victims of same are too high. But those two categories must account for a significant chunk of the UN’s 24,000.

My favorite comment, though, was richard mcenroe’s observation about the unemployment data in the report:

Lemme get this straight: 30 years of brutal oppression, chewed on in two major wars, invaded, defeated, wracked by internal conflict from their holdout fascists and their imported buddies… and their unemployment rate is still no worse than Europe’s?  No wonder the Europeans don’t want them to get on their feet…

Ouch.  

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