the number killed in the 'war on terror'
By David Randall and Emily Gosden
Independent" --- -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 It used new, unpublished data supplied by academics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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited
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