1 in 3 people is the stunning reality of this war and no one speaks for them
I wish to inform and hopefully to move you. I have gathered this information from various sources, UNICEF, the United Nations, WHO, medical journals and relief organizations. The figures are often based on estimates along with some verifiable reports and eye witness accounts because hard figures are difficult to gather. I tried, whenever possible to use multiple sources. Additionally, the UN places the prewar population of Iraq at 22 million. With numbers so large they are already incomprehensible, understand it is very likely the toll is greater than we can imagine or ever be able to document.
You are invited below the fold where I hope we will find a sense of proportion and perspective and most of all outrage.
I am constantly astonished by the number of people who either have no clue or simply do not want to know what we have brought to Iraq with Operation Iraqi Freedom. Since 2003 nearly 3 million Iraqis have fled their country, with more than 100,000 leaving every month. The figures vary, but it is now thought the number of displaced Iraqis still in country number number in excess of 2.2 million. Every day the civil war intensifies the numbers go up exponentially.
The countries taking the largest number of refugees are Syria and Jordan. Syria is a Sunni country, a dictatorship ruled by the Baath party, with ties to terrorist groups and a poor human rights record. About half the refugees entering Syria are Christians and the rest comprised of Shia and Sunni. Jordan is a constitutional monarchy, no ties with terrorists, with fewer human rights violations and politically better for the refugees. They will experience really for the first time how a country moves toward democracy and how representative government works. The problem is neither country can stand the strain of more than a million refugees. Jobs, food, housing, education and medical are all strained to the breaking point. We have said we will help. In first nine months of 2007 only 133 of the planned 7000 Iraqi refugees were allowed into the United States. Since 2003, the U.S. has resettled less than 1,500 Iraqi refugees.European nations like Sweden have taken thousands more.
In addition to the obvious toll on the refugees and their hosts, relief organizations report nearly half of all refugees are children. UNICEF also tells us displaced children are at the greatest risk for death, not just refugee children, but children displaced in their own country. In fact the burden of this war on Iraq's children is staggering.
UNICEF also informs 1/2 of the Iraqi population is under the age of 17, children who will ultimately suffer the most. After years of the UN sanctioned embargo and the first Gulf War Iraqi children and their mothers are chronically malnourished. Now 1 in 8 Iraqi children die before their 5th birthday. Again from UNICEF, 2003 report, of the more than 122, 000 reported deaths of children under 5 more than half are infants. Maternal mortality rates have tripled. There are 10's of thousands of orphans and abandoned children living on the streets and countryside, many left to starve. Children are hit so hard because of the lack of food, custodial parent, clean water, sanitation and lack of health services exacerbating the ravages of childhood diseases like measles. In 2004 we spent princely $37 per capita in Iraq for medical needs.
Now there is a cholera epidemic sweeping thru Northern Iraq, it should reach Bagdad the first week of October. There are 7000 people sick now, when it hits the capitol the the number will raise dramatically and the epidemic will likely sweep south into the rest of Iraq. The sanitary facilities are in disrepair, water supplies are spotty and not clean. Water purification plants themselves may be contaminated with bacteria. The only effective way to deter the epidemic is to introduce chlorine into the water supply to kill the bacteria causing cholera. The 100,000 tons of chlorine so desperately needed to purify water systems sit on the border with Jordan not shipped because of concerns it will be used to make explosives. There are between 5 and 6 million people in Bagdad, all at risk and again children, the sick and the elderly are the most vulnerable. A cholera epidemic we are ill equipped to handle and it would seem incapable of stopping.
The dead, the best estimate say more than 1,000,000 Iraqis have perished, today an Iraqi civilian is 58 times more likely to die a violent death than before the war started. All to save them from Saddam? In the 28 years Saddam was in power he killed about a million Iraqis, it is now generally accepted George Bush has exceeded that number. In addition more than 1.5 million seriously injured, burned, blinded, maimed and broken.
Those numbers represent 7.7 million people, 35% of the Iraqi population is either dead, maimed or a refugee.
Let me try to help you wrap your mind around those numbers. 7.7 million people represents more than the combined populations of our 10 least populous states, D.C., Wyoming, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Hawaii and Vermont. Twice the population of Los Angeles, roughly the combined populations of Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix and San Diego. Add a destroyed infra-stucture and on going Civil war to the deadly mix. We have no comparisons in this country, not even our own Civil War. In recent memory consider Hurricane Katrina, 1.5 million people affected with 1836 confirmed deaths, a tragedy simply dwarfed by the tragedy in Iraq.
We see the flag draped coffins and for every one of our dead there are 300 dead Iraqis, 300. For every soldier who comes back wounded and maimed there are more than 53 Iraqis just like him. The emotional toll on both is unimaginable.
I don't know how one puts this in proper context, how do you find ways to convey the monstrous enormity of what we have done. How do you get people to understand it just isn't about US, it isn't about our dead and wounded, it isn't about oil or WMDs or who is right or wrong, or freedom and democracy or any of the other excuses why we invaded or are staying. it is about the 22 million INNOCENT people of Iraq we are literally liberating to death.
EDIT: I put many of the links in a comment down thread: here
These are reasonably current numbers of estimated population of Iraq today. If I use todays numbers against beginning of war numbers it remains 1 in 3 but drops the percentage to 32%.
This is only a portion of information I used, I worked on the diary off and on for 5-6 weeks. Some of these links have additional information you might find interesting, it helps to paint a more complete picture of what is happening there.