There is an Iraq surge, but it is a surge in deaths. The year up to March 2007 has been the worst 12 months for civilian fatalities since the invasion was launched. Almost 50 per cent of all violent civilian deaths since the March 2003 invasion occurred in the period between March 2006 to March 2007 according to figures compiled by Iraq Body Count .
”All these deaths have been documented and verified by IBC,” Hamit Dardagan, principal researcher of the UK based organisation said. ‘We believe the figures are higher as not all deaths can be verified.”
During the six-week invasion phase, Shock and Awe, at least 7,400 civilians were killed. Since then annual death toll figures among civilians have risen markedly. There were 6,332 reported civilian deaths in the months following the invasion in year one, or 20 per day; 11,312 in year two, 55 per cent up on year one’s daily rate; 14,910 in year three (32 per cent up on year two); and a staggering 26,540 in year four (78 per cent up on year three, and averaging 74 per day). Not counting the 7,400 invasion-phase deaths, four times as many people were killed in the last year as in the first.
”No accurate figures are compiled by military forces in Iraq, as required by international law, which apart from recording deaths means that matters like compensation can not be dealt with,” Dardagan said.
By the end of year four, approximately 1 in 160 of Baghdad residents had been violently killed. Adult males are the most at risk. The majority of casualties throughout the nation are among men, who are both the most frequently targeted and, since the invasion, the most exposed. The overall national breakdown of deaths shows that around a third of the civilian population (adult men) has borne about 90 per cent of deaths.
The situation is not getting better.
”Insurgent attacks continue, despite the dispatch of more than 20,000 additional US troops. Insurgents are confronting the surge strategy head-on, killing civilians daily; over 2,500 civilians were killed in the month, since the launch of the surge on 14 February, by insurgents, US troops, death squads, al-Qaeda and various unknown attackers,” Lily Hamourtziadou, a researcher for IBC said.
These figures do not include the carnage in Baghdad on Wednesday, April 18th that killed more than 170 people.
The Body Count
* almost half (44 per cent) of all violent civilian deaths after the initial invasion phase occurred in the just-ended fourth year of the conflict
* mortar attacks that kill civilians have quadrupled in the last year (from 73 to 289)
* massive bomb blasts that kill more than 50 people have nearly doubled in the last year (from 9 to 17)
* Fatal suicide bombs, car bombs, and roadside bombing attacks have doubled in the last year (from 712 to 1476)
* At least one in 160 of Baghdad’s 6.5 million population has been violently killed since the beginning of the war, representing 64 per cent of deaths recorded so far.
TOM CLIFFORD is a journalist based in Dubai. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org