If Iraq had not been invaded it is estimated that 654,965 people who died, would not have done so, according to an article in The Lancet, Thursday October 12, 2006.

Two years ago another article, also published in The Lancet, had estimated that about 100,000 extra lives were lost because of the invasion between March 2003 – September 2004.

In this new paper, Gilbert Burnham, John Hopkins Bloomberg University, USA, and team came to the 654,965 figure by calculating total deaths between March 2003 to June 2006, and comparing them with total deaths during January 2002 to March 2003 (before the invasion).

47 sites throughout the country were selected, each containing between 1849 households and 12,801 household members. Each household was asked about births, deaths, in-migration and out-migration between May and June 2006. When a death had occurred in a household death certificates were produced 92% of the times. The researchers did not ask household members whether the dead household members were civilians or combatants.

Of the 629 deaths reported, 87% (547) of them had happened after the invasion. This compared to 13% (82) before the invasion. The researchers concluded that the mortality rate before the invasion was 5.5 per 1000 people annually, compared to 13.3 per 1000 people after the invasion. The authors of the paper say this post-invasion mortality rate is, in fact, a humanitarian emergency.

Based on the information above, the authors estimate that an extra 654,965 (minimum 329,979 to maximum 942,636) people died as a result of the invasion of Iraq. In other words, 654,965 fewer people would have died if mortality rates had continued at 5.5 per 1000 people (the rate before the invasion).

Some more information the researchers found:

— Violent death totals have risen each year since the invasion
— Of the extra 654,965 deaths, 610,000 died violently
— 56% of violent deaths were due to gunshots
— Car bombs, air strikes and other explosions accounted for 13-14% of violent deaths
— Deaths attributable to coalition forces account for 31% of violent post-invasion deaths
— Even though the proportion of deaths attributable to coalition forces fell this year, on every single year total numbers since the invasion have gone up

654,965 people represents 2.5% of Iraq’s total population. 2.5% of the USA would be 7.5 million deaths, 2.5% of the UK’s population would be 1.5 million deaths. During The Second World War the United Kingdom lost 0.94% of its population, France lost 1.35%, China lost 1.89% and the USA lost 0.32% (Wikipedia).

Download the report (PDF)

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today