Wednesday, November 22, 2006

More on that UN Iraqi Death Toll

From MSNBC's Blogging Baghdad (noted in this morning's news roundup, which reported that 3,709 Iraqi civilians were killed in October):
While the debate will probably rage for a few days over whose guess at the numbers is more accurate, the undisputable and equally frightening parts of the U.N. report will largely get ignored.

[...]

Huge numbers of Iraqis are on the move across the country, forced to flee their homes as sectarian battle lines get drawn. According to the U.N. report, over 418,392 people have been internally displaced, and over 100,000 people flee to Jordan or Syria each month.

Civilians are terrorized and under siege in their own neighborhoods. On Wednesday an Iraqi was telling me how his father has started a rudimentary health clinic in his neighborhood after meeting a heavily pregnant woman who was too terrified to negotiate militia and police checkpoints to go to hospital for the birth of her child.

I don’t know of any Iraqi who lives in Baghdad and feels safe in his or her own neighborhood. In fact most of the Iraqis I do know have fled their neighborhoods and live elsewhere, often in temporary crowded conditions. Even some of the cleaners in our hotel prefer to sleep on bare concrete in a tiny closet under the stairs than return to their neighborhoods.

[...]

"Hundreds of bodies continued to appear in different areas of Baghdad, handcuffed, blindfolded and bearing signs of torture and execution-style killing," the report said. "Many witnesses reported that perpetrators wear militia attire and even police or army uniforms."

And the list goes on, "More women are becoming victims of religious extremists or "honor killings"…

So while we journalists here and outside Iraq debate the politically sensitive death toll numbers and wonder about the methodology used to arrive at the different figures, does it really matter? Innocent men, women and children are living under the horrific conditions described in the U.N. report, isn’t that enough?


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