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Press Release 11 17 Mar 2005

Iraqi death toll spirals upwards; elections followed by increase in civilian casualties

Thursday 17th March 2005

On the 2nd anniversary of the Coalition invasion of Iraq, media-reported civilian deaths are approaching 20,000, and the death-rate is spiralling upwards.

Data provided on the website show that, far from abating, the monthly death rate in 2005 continues to rise, and that the number of media-reported incidents involving the deaths of civilians and captives in the three months to March 2005 (376) is more than double the number for the same months a year ago (140). April and November 2004 show the highest civilian death totals since the end of the "invasion phase", and result from the two US assaults on Falluja.

Particularly disturbing is that the death rate has increased since the January 31st elections. The reported death toll for February 2005 was 606. This is a significantly higher total than for January, which claimed 447 lives. These figures decisively rebut the claim that elections would lessen the intensity of the insurgency – an insurgency whose stated aim of US military withdrawal was not on the election agenda.

The table below shows provisional figures for each month since May 2003, when President Bush declared an end to "formal hostilities". Also provided in the table is the number of separately reported incidents, month by month.

Iraq Body Count spokesman John Sloboda said

These emerging figures speak for themselves. The Iraqi people have suffered increasingly from the policies of governments who still refuse to either comprehensively assess or accept responsibility for the casualties that have resulted from their actions. In the absence of an official assessment, our researchers have now begun an intensive process of analysing all the original press and media stories, extracting more specific information about both victims and perpetrators in order to reveal in as much detail as possible what can be known about the nature, cause and distribution of civilian casualties in the first two years of this conflict. Today's data are the first fruits of this work, whose full results will be made publicly available in July, at the start of Britain's presidency of the EU and the G8.

Minimum and maximum media-reported civilian deaths May 2003–Feb 2005 (as of 10:00 GMT Thursday 17 Mar 2005)
Month Reported Deaths
Separate Reported
May 2003 453-497 17
June 2003 510-538 25
July 2003 559-595 25
August 2003 591-621 21
September 2003 495-509 33
October 2003 430-450 39
November 2003 408-430 46
December 2003 474-491 51
January 2004 512-528 52
February 2004 530-545 37
March 2004 887-918 71
April 2004 1137-1193 42
May 2004 216-236 60
June 2004 307-338 52
July 2004 273-282 80
August 2004 365-407 83
September 2004 464-504 71
October 2004 356-376 68
November 2004 951-1076 84
December 2004 395-414 100
January 2005 421-447 140
February 2005 554-606 136

Press Contacts:

John Sloboda,
Hamit Dardagan,