Thursday, February 21, 2008

...and counting...

(Occasional sobering thoughts.) Since we last took note of casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan 6 weeks ago, the New England Journal of Medicine released its own study of civilian deaths in Iraq, and came up with an estimate of 151,000 children, women, and men killed -- lower than the Lancet estimates on which we've posted (here and here), but still far more than the conservative Iraq Body Count on which we've relied in this "...and counting..." series. The NEJM study's conclusions cut to the chase:

Violence is a leading cause of death for Iraqi adults and was the main cause of death in men between the ages of 15 and 59 years during the first 3 years after the 2003 invasion. Although the estimated range is substantially lower than a recent survey-based estimate, it nonetheless points to a massive death toll, only one of the many health and human consequences of an ongoing humanitarian crisis.

As for the future, Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's hinting that he may call an end to the 6-month ceasefire that's been observed by his Mehdi Army militia -- a ceasefire that no doubt has contributed to any ease-up of violence in Iraq this past half-year.
And though there's still a dearth of statistics on civilian casualties in Afghanistan, violence seems to be on the increase. Just this week, upwards of 150 Afghans have been killed in separate car-bombings, and some of the NATO partners with troops there are rethinking their commitment.
With those sobering thoughts, here's the casualty count:
According to Iraq Body Count, between 81,426 and 88,886 Iraqi women, children, and men had died in the conflict -- an increase of between 1,095 and 1,144 deaths in the last 6 weeks. Regarding servicemembers: by the U.S. Defense Department's figures, as of Sunday 3,967 American servicemembers had been killed in Iraq. Total coalition fatalities: 4,274 persons. (That's 56 servicemember deaths in 6 weeks, all of them Americans.) The Department stated that 29,662 servicemembers have been wounded, and that 8,791 of them required medical air transport. Military casualties in the conflict in Afghanistan stand at 483 Americans and 283 other coalition servicemembers, an increase of 7 and 5, respectively, in the last 6 weeks.

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