Data from the respected British marketing research firm Opinion Research Business, indicate that as many as 1,220,580 Iraqis have died as a result of the war and occupation of Iraq since March 2003.

A representative sample of 1,461 adults 18 or older answered this question:

"Q: How many members of your household, if any, have died as a result of the conflict in Iraq since 2003 (i.e, as a result of violence rather than a natural death such as old age)? Please note that I mean those who were actually living under your roof."


None - 78%
One - 16%
Two - 5%
Three - 1%
Four or more - 0.002%

Detailed analysis (which is available on our website) indicates that almost one in two households in Baghdad have lost a family member, significantly higher than in any other area of the country. The governorates of Diyala (42%) and Ninewa (35%) were next.

The poll also questioned the surviving relatives on the method in which their loved ones were killed. It reveals that 48% died from a gunshot wound, 20% from the impact of a car bomb, 9% from aerial bombardment, 6% as a result of an accident and 6% from another blast/ordnance. This is significant because more often that not it is car bombs and aerial bombardments that make the news – with gunshots rarely in the headlines.

The Los Angeles Times, which reported on the ORB poll in today’s edition, noted:

There was no way to verify the number, because the government does not provide a full count of civilian deaths. Neither does the U.S. military.

Both, however, say that independent organizations greatly exaggerate estimates of civilian casualties.

How convenient. We won’t tell you our count, but yours is waaaaay wrong. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq hasn’t been able to get the Iraqi government to share data on civilian deaths since the splurge of blood and bucks began because, as one U.N. official pointed out last May, the numbers might make it appear that the splurge policy isn’t working.

Two studies published in the British medical journal Lancet have been ridiculed and its authors smeared by government authorities, rightwing pundits and others for allegedly exaggerating the number of deaths. The most recent Lancet-published study (2006) put that number at 654,965, which, despite its seeming exactness, is a mid-range extrapolation.

Many have argued that numbers in the hundreds of thousands can’t be right because those documented by the Iraq Body Count Website - which now puts the high end of civilian deaths from violence at 78,709 - are so low by comparison. But the administrators of IBC have always conceded that their methods do not include every civilian death despite their best efforts to use multiple sources to be complete.

As Robert Naiman writes in his excellent Diary today on this subject:

Just Foreign Policy created an online and ongoing estimate that extrapolates from the Lancet study using the trend implied by the Iraq Body Count tally of deaths reported in the Western media. Our counter today stands at 1,044,607.

One can't compare the two numbers directly in a strictly statistically rigorous sense, because the two methods don't ask exactly the same question (the ORB poll relies on self-reporting of "death due to the conflict" whereas the Lancet study compared estimated violent death rates before and after the invasion), the ORB reported margin of error of 2.4% is a margin of error on the responses, not on the death estimate, and the Just Foreign Policy estimate is an extrapolation from the Lancet estimate.

Naiman goes on to evaluate the numbers further.

At Deltoid, Tim Lambert, who did excellent work in assessing the Lancet studies and their critics, has this to say (and will undoubtedly follow with more):

My back of the envelope calculation puts the 95% confidence interval at 1.1-1.3 million. This seems consistent with the second Lancet study giving 600,000 violent deaths when you take into account the amount of time that has passed since then. The surveyors in this study did not verify the deaths by asking to see dath certificates, so this could bias the results upwards, but the experience in the two Lancet studies suggests that the great majority of people who report a death can verify with a death certificate. The number of households in Iraq has dropped by maybe 5-10% since 2005 because of all the people that have fled the country, so 1.2 million may be a little high, but it's likely that the number is now one million dead and another million injured as a result of the war.

One million dead. And each day, a few more. If that isn’t a reason to flood the streets in D.C. tomorrow and in your hometown all this week and next Friday for the Iraq Moratorium, what is?
Other Diarists who have taken note of this story today are  stephen soldz, seesdifferent, and joejoejoe

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 02:52 PM PDT.

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