Irak – bilan des pertes humaines

En temps de guerre, il est presque toujours difficile d’obtenir des données exactes sur le nombre de victimes civiles. A de rares exceptions près, les démographes et les épidémiologistes ne mettent pas leur expertise au service de la production d’estimations rigoureuses et crédibles de la mortalité et de la morbidité de la population civile. Il arrive que les experts les mieux placés – par exemple ceux qui dépendent de gouvernements impliqués dans le conflit – ne soient pas libres de participer à des études qui pourrait avoir des conséquences politiques négatives.

Il y a aussi d’autres problèmes : il est parfois impossible d’isoler les répercussions du conflit de celles d’autres interventions (par exemple des sanctions économiques). En outre, les données démographiques précises nécessaires pour établir des estimations valables ne sont pas toujours disponibles en raison de leur caractère « sensible », ou parce qu’elles n’ont jamais été recueillies (dans certains pays en développement), ou encore parce que les données sont devenues obsolètes du fait des mouvements de réfugiés. Il arrive que la part d’incertitude soit si grande que cela ne vaille pas la peine.

En ce qui concerne la guerre en Irak, différentes approches ont été utilisées. Le projet Iraq Body Count cherche à ne comptabiliser que les décès du fait des violences pendant ce conflit, en réunissant des données fondées sur les informations diffusées par les médias. Si les victimes ne sont pas comptées plusieurs fois, et si les incidents sont correctement rapportés, ce calcul ne représente qu’un minimum, car la couverture médiatique n’est pas nécessairement exhaustive.

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