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Iraq War Killed Half-a-Million People, Study Finds

Oct 19, 2013 08:00 AM EDT

The Iraq war claimed nearly 500,000 lives between 2003 and 2011, a new study by researchers at University of Washington and colleagues found.

The study also claimed that for every three people killed during the U.S-led invasion, two more died due to the collapsing infrastructure. About 60 percent deaths during the study period were attributed to violence during the war while the rest were due to indirect causes.

"Policymakers, governments and the public need better data on the health effects of armed conflict," said lead author Amy Hagopian, a UW associate professor of global health.  "Without this information, it's impossible to assess the true human costs of war."

The study was based on data of over 2000 families from different parts of the country. Researchers asked participants about number of births and deaths in the family. Results showed that there were about 405,000 excess deaths in Iraq during the war.

Experts not involved with the current study said that the study provided a "crude" picture about the number of deaths in Iraq. However, most of them believe that the research didn't have access to actual data.

"The main problem with this survey, and with others, is the underlying denominator: the total population" said Dr. Prabhat Jha, director of the Center for Global Health Research in Toronto, according to the Los Angeles Times."That's the tricky part of war zone situations. People not only get killed, but they move out of the country and rarely move in."

Previous estimates of Iraqi deaths during the first year of war had plugged the number to around 100,000. This study was published in the 2004 by Les Roberts and colleagues. Later, another research had said that by 2006 somewhere around 600,000 people were killed, L.A Times reported.

The study, "Mortality in Iraq Associated with the 2003-2011 War and Occupation: Findings from a National Cluster Sample Survey by the University Collaborative Iraq Mortality Study," is published in the journal PLOS One.

There is even a perspective article written by Salman Rawaf of Imperial College London.

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