Friday, April 27, 2007

The value of a life…

How many Iraqi’s have died and how many more will die before this madness will end? No one really knows how many of them have already died. Tracking their death toll just doesn’t seem to be as important to the news media.

Estimates range from approximately 60,000 civilian deaths (Iraq Body Count project) to 655,000 total excess deaths due to the war (second Lancet survey of mortality).

The Iraq Body Count (IBC) project's figure of 56,574 to 62,296 civilian deaths reported in English-language media (including Arabic media translated into English) up to 18 February 2007 includes civilian deaths due to coalition and insurgent military action, sectarian violence and increased criminal violence. The IBC says the figure likely underestimates because: "It is likely that many if not most civilian casualties will go unreported by the media." [1]

The Lancet study's figure of 655,000 is based on surveys and sampling methods and estimates total excess deaths (civilian and non-civilian) up to July 2006, and includes those due to increased lawlessness, degraded infrastructure, poorer healthcare, etc. [2]

The United Nations reported that 34,452 violent civilian deaths occurred in 2006, based on data from morgues, hospitals, and municipal authorities across Iraq.[3] For comparison, the IBC reports approximately 24,500 civilian deaths in 2006.[4] The Lancet study's excess mortality rate figure of 14.2 deaths/1000/year as of June 2006 corresponds to approximately 370,000 deaths in 2006.[5]

A figure of 100,000 to 150,000 was estimated by Iraq's Health Minister in a November 2006 press conference, based on extrapolating the recent 2006 rate of 100 deaths per day recorded in hospitals and morgues backward to March 2003. War-related deaths (civilian and non-civilian), and deaths from criminal gangs. [6]

"At least 50,000 Iraqis have died violently"—as of June 2006. "Many more Iraqis are believed to have been killed but not counted because of serious lapses in recording deaths. ... The [Los Angeles] Times attempted to reach a comprehensive figure by obtaining statistics from the Baghdad morgue and the Health Ministry and checking those numbers against a sampling of local health departments for possible undercounts." [7]

The Iraqi government has of course disputed these figures and now has refused to release any figures.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The United Nations accused SEARCH
Iraq on Wednesday of withholding sensitive civilian casualty figures because it fears they would be used to paint a "very grim" picture of a worsening humanitarian crisis.
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Whether the government of Iraq releases figures or not the amount of human suffering cannot be denied. They can no more hide the toll on human life than Saddam Hussein could during his reign. The world needs to know how costly in human terms this situation is becoming in order to prepare for the massive job that is awaiting us. At some point the world will need to reach out and help these people heal and reconstruct their lives. These are not just facts and figures these are human beings worthy of life and dignity.

Although no one really knows the exact number, everyone can agree that it has been a lot. I read a report the other day and it talked about how most Americans have a fairly accurate idea of the number of American war dead from the Iraqi invasion. However, when it comes to the number of Iraqi war dead there is a remarkable lack of awareness by the American public to the devastation that has been visited upon these people. Many in the world believe that we as Americans are unconcerned with the deaths of anyone who is not American or Jewish. That in our minds and opinions their lives are not as valuable. It is this belief that feeds a lot of the animosity directed towards us by other nations.

I believe that all life has value. Each and every one of us is a unique creation of God and therefore of value to God. We should begin to express our outrage and concern for not only the American lives lost, but also the lives of any human being that is slaughtered throughout the world. It is easy to become overwhelmed and numb to the slaughter going on throughout the world. The images that are constantly being beamed to our televisions of carnage and inhumanity can cause one to become insensitive to the plight of others. They are over there and they are different from us, but does that make their lives any less valuable? Are they deserving of any less compassion because they don’t look like me or believe what I believe? I certainly hope not. We should be equally appalled wherever suffering is occurring. Of course it is human nature to care more about those who I identify closely with, but it doesn’t have to be an either or situation. There is enough compassion to go around for all suffering people.

Let’s let the world know that we value all human life equally. We all share a kinship with one another that goes beyond borders and colors and politics.

“Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?”

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