New Study Estimates Nearly 500,000 Died in Iraq War

It's a significant drop from previously accepted calculations

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Mohammed Ameen / Reuters

U.S. soldiers carry an Iraqi national flag and an U.S. flag during a ceremony to retire the flags, marking the end of the U.S. military engagement at the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center, December 15, 2011.

A survey released Tuesday from Canadian, American and Iraqi researchers examines the controversial death toll from the Iraq War, estimating close to 500,000 deaths as a result of the near decade-long war.

The new study, touted as the most rigorous of its kind and conducted in mid-2011, was published in the peer-reviewed PLoS Medicine journal, analyzing a survey of 2,000 Iraqi households across 100 regions in the war-torn nation as well as another survey asking residents about their siblings. The data totaled 405,000 deaths while adding another 55,800 estimated deaths from the migration and emigration due to the conflict. The households were randomly selected using a grid on Google Maps, which Al Jazeera reports, was twice the amount surveyed in previous studies in the Lancet in 2004 and 2006. The 2006 study estimated a death toll of about 655,000.

Researchers estimated about 60 percent of the deaths were violent and pointed to poor health infrastructure as the cause of the remaining 40 percent, emphasizing the lessons of providing sufficient healthcare following conflict. Critics of the new study argue researchers neglected to point out the discrepancies between former surveys and the new data.

The authors said the study was not influenced by funders, which came from “pooled internal resources,” and expect the new revelations to help reduce the war’s toll moving forward.

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[Al Jazeera]