62,006 - The Number Killed in the "War on Terror"
Sunday 10 September 2006
The "war on terror" - and by terrorists - has directly killed a minimum of 62,006 people, created 4.5 million refugees and cost the US more than the sum needed to pay off the debts of every poor nation on earth.
If estimates of other, unquantified, deaths - of insurgents, the Iraq military during the 2003 invasion, those not recorded individually by Western media, and those dying from wounds - are included, then the toll could reach as high as 180,000.
The extraordinary scale of the conflict's impact, claiming lives from New York to Bali and London to Lahore, and the extent of the death tolls in Iraq and Afghanistan, has emerged from an Independent on Sunday survey to mark the fifth anniversary of 11 September. It used new, unpublished data supplied by academics and organisations such as Iraq Body Count and Professor Marc Herold of the University of New Hampshire, plus estimates given by other official studies.
The result is the first attempt to gauge the full cost in blood and money of the worldwide atrocities and military conflicts that began in September 2001. As of yesterday, the numbers of lives confirmed lost are: 4,541 to 5,308 civilians and 385 military in Afghanistan; 50,100 civilians and 2,899 military in Iraq; and 4,081 in acts of terrorism in the rest of the world.
The new figure on civilian deaths from Iraq Body Count, a group of British and US academics, is especially telling. Just two and a half years ago, its estimate of the number of civilian dead in Iraq passed 10,000. Today, it says, that figure has gone beyond the 50,000 mark - a huge leap largely attributable to terrorist acts and the breakdown of civil authority.
Iraq Body Count's careful methodology - of recording a death only when it appears in two independent media reports - almost certainly produces a substantial underestimate. Even the Iraqi Health Ministry reports a slightly higher figure, and President Bush's much-quoted figure of 30,000 civilian dead dates from December 2005, when it tallied with the then IBC figure. Insurgent deaths are not included in the IBC figures, and neither are those of Iraqi police when engaged in combat-style operations.
Estimates of the former are, together with the number of Iraqi military killed in the battle phase of the Iraq occupation, the biggest unknown of the conflict. One US news report guessed the insurgent dead in Iraq at 36,000 since 2003, while the number of Iraqi military killed during the invasion phase remains unknown and unknowable.
Neither category is included in our figure of 62,006 confirmed directly killed. Nor does it include any figures for people later dying from wounds received, or the increased mortality owing to lack of health care. Estimates for one or the other ranging up to 130,000 have been produced, but are based on little more than educated (and uneducated) guesswork or, as with the controversial Lancet estimate of 98,000 deaths due to extra mortality, by amplifying a survey of 988 households into a nation-wide conclusion.
What is certain is the wretched state of health care in Iraq. In March 2006 the campaign group Medact reported that 18,000 physicians have left since 2003; an estimated 250 of those that remained have been kidnapped and, in 2005 alone, 65 killed. Medact also said that "easily treatable conditions such as diarrhoea and respiratory illness caused 70 per cent of all child deaths", and that "of the 180 health clinics the US hoped to build by the end of 2005, only four have been completed and none has been opened". In May, a survey by the Iraq government and Unicef reported that a quarter of all Iraqi children suffer from malnutrition.
In Afghanistan, the most reliable recorder of civilian deaths is Professor Marc Herold, whose latest figures range from 4,541 to 5,308. He does not include those who die subsequently from their injuries or in refugee camps.These "indirect" deaths have been put at anything from 8,000 to 20,000. More accurate are estimates of refugee numbers. In July, the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants said there were 2.2 million Afghans who had fled abroad and at least 153,200 displaced internally. For Iraq, there were 888,700 external refugees, and 1.3 million people displaced inside the country. An estimated 40 per cent of the Iraqi middle class have left Iraq.
Beyond the blood price, there is a dollar and sterling cost. In July it was reported that the US Congress had approved $437bn (£254bn) for costs related to the "war on terror". This, a sum greater than those spent on the Korean and Vietnam wars, compares to the $375bn that Make Poverty History says is needed to clear the debts of the world's poorest nations. The British Government has spent £4.5bn on Iraq and Afghanistan.
IRAQ: Orphaned and Badly Burned at 12
The image of a despairing 12-year-old orphan lying on a filthy Iraqi hospital bed, his arms burnt off above the elbow, symbolised the "collateral damage" of the second Gulf war. Ali Abbas had 60 per cent burns after an American bombing raid on the Baghdad suburbs hit his home and killed 15 of his relatives, including his parents and his brother.
Three years later the young Iraqi, now a teenager living in Britain, enjoys cycling around London's Richmond Park on a special bicycle and playing games on his PlayStation with his feet. He will be taking his GCSEs next year, at a private school whose headmaster has waived the usual £8,000 annual fees. According to his teachers Ali, 15, is fluent in English and is particularly good at geography.
He is not a typical teenager, his therapist, Grania Hyde-Smith, said; Ali cannot brush his teeth, bathe or use the lavatory unaided. "He is a well-adjusted teenager. And when you consider what he's been through, that is a brilliant, inspirational and remarkable achievement."
Although he spends school holidays in Iraq, Ali is not sure that he will end up there. "I found my house on Google Earth the other day, where it had been. I found a white spot from the sky. When I went there last summer it seemed a dangerous place," he said.
JORDAN: Shot by a Lone Extremist
Christopher Stokes was with a tour group visiting the Roman amphitheatre in Jordan's capital, Amman, when he was shot by a lone extremist last week. The 30-year-old had given up his accountancy job to tour the Middle East. "Christopher lived his dreams," his father Rod, 59, said. "He travelled because he wanted to meet people."
SPAIN: Bombed on Way to Work
Maria Moyano did not drive to work on the morning of the Madrid bombings in March 2004; she was awaiting delivery of her new car. The 30-year-old economics student had just returned from studying in America and was planning a July wedding. Her body was so badly mutilated in the blast that it took several days to identify her.
USA: Passenger on United 93
Deora Bodley was a first-year student at a Catholic university in California. The 20-year old San Diegan was the youngest of 44 passengers killed when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a Pennsylvania field on 11 September 2001. She was supposed to take the flight an hour later, but wanted to get home sooner to her family and boyfriend.
AFGHANISTAN: Killed at a Checkpoint
Nasrat Ali Hassan was shot as he passed a Canadian military checkpoint outside Kandahar in March. The 45-year-old father of six was a passenger in a rickshaw taxi, and was allegedly shot four times. The price of compensating his family should start with Canadian citizenship, according to the victim's eldest brother.
Although the Australian and British victims of the Bali bombings in October 2002 were widely reported, many of the dead killed in the Bali attack were Indonesian. Made Wijaya, 39, was a taxi driver waiting for fares outside the Sari Club. He left behind a wife and three children. Seven people from his village died, all of them taxi drivers.