Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sudan's Darfur death toll 134,000 not 400,000? Death estimates for Darfur inaccurate - US study

Darfur 400,000 killed

Cartoon by Gerald Scarfe courtesy The Sunday Times 10 Dec 2006 (hat tip The Sudanese Thinker originally via Sudan Fairytale)

Death estimates for Darfur inaccurate - US study

Reuters report here below leads us to believe about 134 000 people died in Darfur and eastern Chad from September 2003 to January 2005. It does not say if the deaths were due to disease, lack of food, etc.

The population of Darfur is estimated at around 6.5 million. Darfur is the size of France. Nomads cross borders unchecked. Sudan is the size of Europe.

One wonders if the IDPs are better off in UN camps. Without security, money, land and rights, who would want to move away? Maybe the camps will develop into towns.

Not found any more news of NRC. Can't help wondering who is running Kalma camp, home of 93,000 IDPs.
Dec 12 2006 Reuters report (via Business Day) - excerpt:

Death toll statistics in Darfur vary widely, ranging from 70 000 to about the 400 000 estimated by the group Coalition for International Justice over a 26-month period.

The GAO report had most confidence in Belgium-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, which said about 134 000 people died in Darfur and eastern Chad from September 2003 to January 2005.

The State Department did not provide any updated death tolls for Darfur but US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said last September "hundreds of thousands of men, women and children have been murdered" in the conflict.

"The United States has called this tragedy by the only name that captures its meaning, the only name it deserves - genocide," said Rice in a speech to the Africa Society.

A study published last September in the journal Science also said the US State Department's Darfur death toll underestimated the count by "hundreds of thousands" of lives.

That study by Northwestern University in Illinois, which was not examined by the GAO report, put the toll at 200 000 or more.

Estimating death tolls in hostile environments is a difficult and dangerous job and the GAO said there were numerous challenges in Darfur, including lack of access.

Limitations in estimates of Darfur's population before and during the crisis may also have led to over or underestimates of the death toll, said the report.

Another problem was the varying use of baseline mortality rates - the rate of deaths that would have occurred without the crisis - may have led to overly high or low estimates.

"To safeguard the US government’s credibility as a source of reliable death estimates, GAO recommends ensuring greater transparency regarding the data and methods used for such estimates," it said.
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Note Nov 29 2004 Darfur population figures: 6 million, 6.5 million, or 6-7 million

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