sabato, ottobre 14, 2006

Quanti sono i morti della guerra in Iraq?

Come qualcuno di voi ha già sentito dire, è uscito uno studio sulla rivista Lancet dove si sostiene che la guerra in Iraq avrebbe fatto 650.000 morti, ossia un iracheno su quaranta, più dei morti provocati in 25 anni di dittatura da Saddam Hussein. Leggete e giudicate.

One in 40 Iraqis 'killed since invasion'
US and Britain reject journal's finding that [Iraq] death toll has topped 650,000
Sarah Boseley
October 12, 2006
The Guardian

The death toll in Iraq following the US-led invasion has topped 655,000 - one in 40 of the entire population - according to a majorpiece of research in one of the world's leading medical journals.The study, produced by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of PublicHealth in Baltimore and published online by the Lancet, claims thetotal number of deaths is more than 10 times greater than anypreviously compiled estimate.The findings provoked an immediate political storm. Within hours ofits release, George Bush had dismissed the figures. "I don't considerit a credible report," he told reporters at the White House. "Neitherdoes General Casey [the top US officer in Iraq], neither do Iraqiofficials."The Foreign Office also cast doubt on the findings, stating that thegovernment preferred to rely on the body count of the Iraqi ministryof health, which recorded just 7,254 deaths between January 2005 andJanuary 2006.But the US researchers have the backing of four separate independentexperts who reviewed the new paper for the Lancet. All urgedpublication. One spoke of the "powerful strength" of the researchmethods, which involved house-to-house surveys by teams of doctorsacross Iraq.The Johns Hopkins researchers published an earlier study in the Lancetin October 2004, which caused similar shock waves. They say the newwork validates the old and shows an alarming escalation in violentdeaths.Nearly a third of the deaths (31%) were ascribed to the coalitionforces. Most of the deaths - 601,000 out of 655,000 - were due toviolence and of those, 56% were caused by gunshot wounds. Air strikes,car bombs and other explosions accounted for a further 13-14%.For reasons involving their own safety, the doctors did not probewhether those who died were combatants or civilians. Deaths due todisease have also risen as the conflict has damaged Iraq's healthservices.The authors say their discovery that the death rate in Iraq has morethan doubled from 5.5 per 1,000 a year before the invasion to 13.3 per1,000 a year since "constitutes a humanitarian emergency"."Although such death rates might be common in times of war," write theauthors, Professor Gilbert Burnham and colleagues, "the combination ofa long duration and tens of millions of people affected has made thisthe deadliest international conflict of the 21st century and should beof grave concern to everyone."At the conclusion of our 2004 study we urged that an independent bodyassess the excess mortality that we saw in Iraq. This has nothappened."We continue to believe that an independent international body tomonitor compliance with the Geneva conventions and other humanitarianstandards in conflict is urgently needed. With reliable data, thosevoices that speak out for civilians trapped in conflict might be ableto lessen the tragic human cost of future wars."Yesterday the Foreign Office repeated the government's criticism oftwo years ago. "We will be looking at it in more detail but it is afairly small sample they have taken and they have extrapolated acrossthe country," said a spokesman."We rely on the Iraqi government themselves. They are producing theirown figures these days. Our position at the moment is that whateverfigures we see, all these civilian deaths are a tragedy and of greatconcern to us. The multinational forces and the internationalcommunity have to support a democratically elected government which istrying to stamp out the violence."The US defence department said that it always regrets the loss of lifeanywhere. "The coalition takes enormous precautions to preventcivilian deaths and injuries," said its spokesman, Mark Ballesteros."By contrast, the enemy in Iraq takes no such precautions anddeliberately targets innocent civilians."It would be difficult for the US to precisely determine the number ofcivilian deaths in Iraq as a result of insurgent activity. The Iraqiministry of health would be in a better position, with all of itsrecords, to provide more accurate information on deaths in Iraq."The Lancet editor, Richard Horton, says in a commentary publishedonline with the study that the work "corroborates the impression thatIraq is descending into bloodthirsty chaos".Plans by the Americans to reduce the number of troops in Iraq appearedyesterday to have been scuppered by the growing violence in thecountry.General Peter Schoomaker, the US army chief of staff, said he wasplanning for troop numbers to stay at the present level through to2010. "This is not a prediction that things are going poorly orbetter. It's just that I have to have enough ammo in the magazine thatI can continue to shoot as long as they want us to shoot," he said.There are 141,000 American troops in Iraq, and the US government hadhinted it would begin reducing numbers to 100,000 after theinauguration of the Iraqi government. But these plans appear to havebeen jeopardised by increased insurgent attacks and sectariankillings.Yesterday, Jan Egeland, the UN under-secretary for humanitarianaffairs, warned: "Revenge killing seems to be totally out of control"and added that the "blunt, brutal violence" in Iraq was targeting allcivilians.But despite Dr Horton's bleak assessment, he writes, "absolute despairwould be the wrong response. Instead, the disaster that is the west'scurrent strategy in Iraq must be used as a constructive call to theinternational community to reconfigure its foreign policy around humansecurity rather than national security ... Health is now the mostimportant foreign policy issue of our time."

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