Sunday, January 30, 2005

Darfur mortality analysis by Jan Coebergh, MD:  

"Sudan: genocide has killed more than the tsunami," Parliamentary Brief
(UK), February 2005 (Volume 9, No. 7; pages 5-7)

A statistical derivation of total mortality for the Darfur conflict,
based upon all extant mortality data and reports: "a total of 306,130
excess deaths between February 2003 and December 2004." Required
reading for all who would presume to report on human destruction in

Moreover, Coebergh concludes, whatever total we begin with in mortality
to date: "This year [2005] looks worse than last year [2004]."

This highly informed and trenchant analysis may be downloaded in PDF
format at http://www.thepolitician.org/

Further, Coebergh makes a number of important observations about
mortality that are not are not readily captured in statistical form:

Does it matter how many have died? ---

"Yes. It gives us a correct picture of the scale of the tragedy in
Darfur and helps us measure our response. Counting the dead also values
them. And it allows us to properly estimate the cost in lives this war
will claim in the months ahead. After all, these were, and are,
preventable deaths."

Underestimates of mortality ---

"Several reasons for underestimating mortality exist in all these
studies. All interviews would fail to detect the death of whole
families. Under-reporting of neonatal and infant deaths in similar
surveys has been documented. People could also be afraid that, despite
assurance, reporting deaths will affect their food rations. In the MSF
and WHO study, more people were absent and had disappeared than had
died. It is difficult to imagine what happened to these people, but some
are likely to be among the dead."

"With the world losing interest, that is more rather than less likely.
In all of this, it is easy to forget the children who are not born
because families are separated or a husband or wife killed. Men cannot
marry because without livestock and female fertility also decreases with
malnutrition and stress. Nor must one forget the children who are born:
rape has been widespread. Malnutrition will affect all those that
survive, for the rest of their lives."

["Jan Coebergh is a doctor with an interest in epidemiology. He worked
in Darfur before the present crisis"---Parliamentary Brief, February
2005 (Volume 9, No. 7); http://www.thepolitician.org/]

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

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