More Than 85,000 Iraqis Killed In 2004-08

by Gopalan on Oct 15 2009 1:08 PM

Over 85,000 persons were killed in Iraq between 2004 and 2008, according to the Iraqi government.

The number is based on death certificates issued by the Ministry of Health and included 15,000 unidentified bodies, but does not include foreigners or insurgents.

Also the report of the Ministry of Human Rights does not go into casualties in the first months of the war after the 2003 US-led invasion “as there was no functioning Iraqi government at that time to keep track.”

Among the deaths were 1,279 children, 2,334 women, 263 university professors, 21 judges, 95 lawyers and 269 journalists.

The data covers only violent deaths, such as people killed in shootings, bombings, mortar attacks and beheadings.

It does not include indirect factors such as damage to infrastructure, health care and stress that contributed to more deaths.

About 148,000 people were injured during the same period.

The ministry’s report came out late Tuesday as part of a larger study on human rights in the country. It described the years that followed the invasion, which toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime, as extremely violent.

“Through the terrorist attacks like explosions, assassinations, kidnappings and forced displacements, the outlawed groups have created these terrible figures,” it said.

Violence in Iraq has declined dramatically since the height of the fighting but almost every Iraqi family has a story of relatives killed, maimed or missing. One Baghdad resident, Ali Khalil, 27, from the Sadr City neighborhood whose father was shot in late 2006 by gunmen said he was not surprised by the government’s figures.

“I expect that the real numbers of the people killed are higher than this,” Khalil said. He added that he did not think the country would return to the high numbers of dead in the future because security has improved. “We have already lost dear ones, and we hope that our sadness and losses will cease.”

Emmanuel d’Harcourt from the New York-based International Rescue Committee, who’s participated in mortality surveys in such places as Sudan and Sierra Leone, said the figures are undoubtedly low and that considering the challenges associated with counting those killed in the Iraq conflict, a true figure might never be reached.

“I would think that Iraq would be one of the most difficult places on Earth to count the dead,” he said.

Combined with tallies based on hospital sources and media reports since the beginning of the war and an in-depth review of available evidence by the AP, the figures showed that more than 110,600 Iraqis had died in violence since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and up through early 2009.

The most recent numbers from Iraq Body Count, a private London-based group that has tracked civilian casualties since the war began, puts the number of civilian casualties as of Oct. 14 at 93,540.

Controversy has dogged the numbers all these years, supporters and opponents of invasion charging the other side was manipulating the figures.

The reality is that amid the chaos and violence that followed the invasion the true number may never be known, BBC’s Gabriel Gatehouse in Baghdad says.