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New Estimate Triples Number of War Deaths Over Past 50 Years


A study of 13 countries found that more than 5 million people were killed, most of them in Vietnam. Also, the latest estimates of the world's refugees. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

A new study finds that wars killed three times more people in the past fifty years than other reports have estimated.

Researchers studied wars in thirteen countries between nineteen fifty-five and two thousand two. They estimate that almost five and a half million people were killed, including almost four million in Vietnam.

Ziad Obermeyer is a doctor at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. He and other researchers designed a new way to estimate deaths from wartime violence. Current methods used during conflicts have been criticized for a risk of underreporting or overreporting deaths.

The new method compares eyewitness and media reports to information gathered from families later, during peacetime. That information comes from United Nations World Health Surveys.

The study in the British Medical Journal does not support a common belief that war deaths are decreasing. Also, it deals only with deaths from violence. Disease can claim more lives during a conflict.

Wars also produce refugees. Friday was World Refugee Day. The United Nations says the number of people fleeing violence and repression has risen to almost eleven and a half million. Half are from Iraq and Afghanistan. The total does not include Palestinian refugees.

Also, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres says twenty-six million people are displaced within their own countries.

The conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Darfur area of Sudan get a lot of attention. But the high commissioner says other conflicts in Africa have created thousands of new refugees this year.

The U.N. refugee agency says refugee numbers worldwide fell for five years before rising again in the last two years. It says conflicts are largely to blame, but also climate change and poverty tied to rising energy and food prices.

The United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants says refugees face mistreatment and a lack of assistance in many countries. This group estimates there were more than fourteen million refugees worldwide last year.

More than two million Iraqis have become internally displaced since the Iraq war started in two thousand three. Another two million have fled to Jordan and Syria, including many professionals. Committee President Lavinia Limon says these doctors, lawyers and others cannot work legally in Jordan, Syria or the surrounding countries.

She spoke this week in Washington, joined by several lawmakers. Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland said the United States has relocated only around five thousand Iraqis since the war began. The State Department says it aims to relocate twelve thousand this year and is working as quickly as possible.

The report also criticizes much of Europe for making it difficult for refugees to gain entry. And it criticizes Kenya and other countries that keep large numbers of refugees in camps.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

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