Friday, March 11, 2005

Under-Reporting the Dead: A Hitler Policy?

Refresh my memory if I'm incorrect, but didn't Hitler deliberately undercount and underreport the number of people his administration killed, so as to hide the truth about his policies and actions?
From AFP, via Yahoo News this afternoon...."International group of doctors blast official toll of Iraqi civil dead" Thu Mar 10, 7:11 PM ET

PARIS (AFP) - A group of top public-health physicians has branded the official toll of civilian dead from the Iraqi war as a serious underestimate and demanded an independent probe to establish the full casualty figures.

Their statement is published this Saturday in the weekly British Medical Journal (BMJ) as the second anniversary of the war looms on March 20.

It marks a fresh attempt by medical campaigners to establish the number of Iraqi civilian casualties after a rough estimate of 100,000 dead, made by epidemiologists last October, was brushed aside by the British government.

"Monitoring casualties is a humanitarian imperative," the statement said.
"Understanding the causes of death is a core public-health responsibility, nationally and internationally.

"Yet neither the public, nor we as public-health professionals, are able to obtain validated, reliable information about the extent of mortality and morbidity since the invasion of Iraq ."
The statement is signed by 23 leading specialists from five countries (the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and Spain), led by Klim McPherson, a visiting professor of epidemiology at the University of Oxford.

The doctors pour scorn on the sole official toll, compiled by the Iraqi ministry of health. This lists 3,853 civilian deaths and 15,517 injuries during the first six months of the war, the BMJ said separately in a news report.

The signatories complained that the ministry is "likely seriously to underestimate" the toll, as it only includes violence-related deaths that are officially reported through the health system, nor mortality from non-violent causes.

The October 2004 estimate of around 100,000 civilian deaths, published in the British journal The Lancet, was based on interviews among people in 988 households who were asked about deaths among their families. The figures were then extrapolated nationally.

The deaths were caused mainly by violence (with coalition air strikes the biggest attributed sources), as well as additional cases of fatal heart attack, stroke, neo-natal death and infectious disease inflicted by the conflict, The Lancet study said.

Its authors said it was a useful, and conservatively derived, estimate but acknowledged its limitations, both in the number of interviews and the conditions in which the questions were made.

The British Foreign Office described The Lancet figures as unreliable and said it had no legal responsibility under the Geneva Convention to count civilian casualties, a position also taken by its ally, the United States.

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