Following the release of the latest controversial Lancet study on the massive death toll in Iraq – Dahr Jamail provides some necessary perspective – the following letter appears in today’s Age newspaper:
A new report published in the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet this week has estimated that 654,965 civilian deaths have occurred as a consequence of the war in Iraq . Of post-invasion deaths the majority were due to violence, the most common cause being gunfire.
This new study, carried out by researchers from the Johns Hopkins University in the US , follows a study undertaken in October 2003, that concluded about 100,000 civilians had been killed in Iraq since it was invaded by the US-led coalition in March 2003. Despite media criticism, epidemiologists in the field of conflict and public health supported the methodology and findings. This new study highlights a significant increase in civilian deaths since 2003.
The methodology used is consistent with survey methodology that has long been standard practice in estimating mortality in populations affected by war.
For example, the Burnet Institute and International Rescue Committee (IRC) used the same methods to estimate mortality in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The findings of this study received widespread media attention and were accepted without reservation by the US and British governments. The Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health’s Centre for International Health endorses this study.
The lives of Iraqis are currently being shaped by the policies of the occupying forces and the militant insurgents. A new strategy is needed to win peace and prevent further unnecessary human casualties. We hope heads and hearts will respond in an effort to reduce the impact of this occupation on the civilian population.
Professor Mike Toole, Centre for International Health, Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health, Melbourne
We should never forget that the “Coalition” forces have no idea how many civilians have been killed in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.