In an open letter to Blair yesterday, 46 diplomats, academics, health experts and religious leaders called on him to commission an independent inquiry to count the casualties in Iraq. This is a requirement under the Geneva Convention for any occupying force.
Blair advised the House of Commons that "Figures from the Iraqi ministry of health, which are a survey from the hospitals there, are in our view the most accurate survey there is," However, the figures he referred to (3,853 dead and 15,517 injured) are not a survey but a partial count over a six month period from April to October, and do not include any count for the period after they declared the war over. The total is widely acknowledged to be too low, even by Iraqi Officials.
Iraq Body Count uses official Iraqi figures, media reports and information from aid organisations. They recognise that the full total is higher, but they estimate civilian deaths to number between 14,619 and 16,804 people.
"The Associated Press" surveyed hospitals and recorded 3,420 civilian deaths in the war alone.
The Lancet" used on-the-ground surveys to estimate the number of civilian deaths since invasion at a about 100,000.
The health charity "Medact" concludes there has been a substantial deterioration in the health of the Iraqi people since March 2003 and that violence and poor access to services are creating a public health crisis of massive proportions.
Tony Blair says he is committed to protecting civilians in Iraq, but we have no way of knowing whether this is true. Of course, we carefully record all of the deaths of US and British (military) personnel.
So estimates of civilian deaths range from under 4,000 (the Government) to 100,000 (Lancet), and military deaths are estimated at 13,500-45,000 (Medact) while we know that exactly 71 British Soldiers and 1,276 US Soldiers have died.
This gives a proportion of 12:1 on the lowest count and 108:1 on the highest count.