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[casi] New Medact report on the invasion and aftermath

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 <A HREF="">Continuing Collateral Damage: New Medact 
Continuing Collateral Damage:
The health and environmental costs of war on Iraq

Executive Summary

The war on Iraq and its aftermath exacted a heavy toll on combatants and
civilians, who paid and continue to pay the price in death, injury and mental and
physical ill health. Between 21,700 and 55,000 people died between March 20
and October 20, 2003 (the date on which this report went to press), while the
health and environmental consequences of the conflict will be felt for many
years to come.

This toll is calculated in a comprehensive, independent survey written and
researched by health professionals for the Iraqi Health Monitoring Project,
managed by Medact and part-funded by Oxfam and the Polden-Puckham Charitable
Foundation. Its conclusions are based on the best available information on a range
of health indicators from sources in the public domain, and observations from
expert individuals and organisations in and outside Iraq.

The impact of war on health is usually assessed primarily in terms of its
most direct and visible effects - death and injury through conflict. Between
7,800 and 9,600 Iraqi civilians are estimated to have died in this way, and 394
Coalition combatants. Estimates of the number of Iraqi military deaths range
from 13,500 - 45,000. In the absence of official body counts, the final toll will
probably never be known. In addition, thousands of combatants on both sides
as well as civilians suffered severe injuries, including amputations and mental
trauma that triggers psychiatric disorders.

The full effects of war are, however, felt through many other less direct but
potentially equally deadly or more deadly pathways. Here the death toll and
disease burden could be numbered in tens of thousands. Yet it may never be
known for certain, owing to the lack of accurate data, lack of functioning health
information systems, lack of commitment to collecting or disseminating the
data, and the absence of agreed conceptual models for measuring the effects of
conflict on health.

The report assesses the impact of the war on the determinants of health,
including limited access to clean water and sanitation; poverty and household food
security; environmental degradation; disruption of social systems and public
services, including health services; and social breakdown. There has been
deterioration in all these determinants. The health of the Iraqi people is
generally worse than before the war. And as documented in our earlier report,
Collateral Damage: the health and environmental costs of war on Iraq (issued 12
November 2002), that state of health was already poor by international standards;
any fresh conflict was likely to lead to further decline, at least in the short
to medium term.

The impact of the war on the Iraqi environment is also documented. This
includes extensive pollution of land, sea, rivers and the atmosphere that may have
spilled over to neighbouring countries. Oil well fires created oil spills and
toxic smoke. Troop movements destroyed fragile desert ecology. Explosive
remnants of war and land mines killed and maimed people and animals and polluted
the landscape. Bombardment destroyed topsoil and arable/grazing land as well as
the physical infrastructure of buildings, roads, railways, power stations,
sewage plants and telecommunications.

Roger Stroope
Northern Arizona University
Flagstaff USA

In response to reporters and critics queries during the first Gulf War;
"I firmly believed we should not march into Baghdad ...To occupy Iraq would
instantly shatter our coalition, turning the whole Arab world against us and
make a broken tyrant, into a latter-day Arab hero …" George H. W. Bush (41)

"...assigning young soldiers to a fruitless hunt for a securely entrenched
dictator and condemning them to fight in what would be an unwinnable urban
guerrilla war." George H. W. Bush (41)

In response to reporters query relating to attacks against US service people;
"Bring 'em on!" George W. Bush (43) July 3, 2003

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