When it comes to war, we tend to count only those who are directly killed by weaponry. But wars kill many more than that because there are the deaths that occur indirectly as well, because of the destruction of the infrastructure, hospitals, water and electricity supplies, transportation, etc. A group of academics from University of Washington, Johns Hopkins University, Simon Fraser University, and Mustansiriya University joined to try and estimate the total number and they come up with the appalling total of 504,000.
Violence caused most of the deaths, but about a third were indirectly linked to the war, and these deaths have been left out of previous counts, said lead author Amy Hagopian, a public health researcher at the University of Washington.
Those included situations when a pregnant woman encountered difficult labor but could not leave the house due to fighting, or when a person drank contaminated water, or when a patient could not get treated at a hospital because staff was overwhelmed with war casualties.
“These are all indirect deaths, and they are significant,” Hagopian told AFP.
The group also tried to identify those responsible for the deaths.
About 70 percent of Iraq deaths from 2003-2011 were violent in nature, with most caused by gunshots, followed by car bombs and other explosions, said the study.
Coalition forces were blamed for 35 percent of violent deaths; militias were blamed for 32 percent. The rest were either unknown (21 percent), criminals (11 percent) or Iraqi forces (one percent).
One of the authors says that they hope their work will make people think twice about waging wars.
The aim of the study was to provide a truer picture of the suffering caused by war, and hopefully to make governments think twice about the harm that would come from an invasion, she said.
“I think it is important that people understand the consequences of launching wars on public health, on how people live. This country is forever changed.”
A country destroyed and half a million deaths because the US waged an unprovoked war of aggression. If that is not a war crime, I don’t know what is.