Total Civilian Deaths During 2003-2015 and Post-Conflict Period in Iraq: Challenges and Achievements of the Medico-Legal Directorate (MLD) in Baghdad

Zaid A. Abbas, Ammirah J. Omar, Salah M. Salih, Mustafa Munjid


Iraq has been involved in several conflicts during the last five decades. The period between 2003-2015 witnessed a dangerous and highly unstable security situation in Iraq resulting in a huge number of civilian fatalities. Accordingly, the work load was also increased on the staff of the Medico-legal Directorate (MLD) of Iraq, which houses the only forensic medicine center for performing autopsies in Baghdad. The present report provides descriptive, statistic, and some demographic data of the total number of deaths during the period 2003-2015 and post-conflict period in Iraq. Results showed that the total number of civilian dead bodies brought to the MLD for performing autopsies during the period 2003-2015 was 95,902, with an average of 7322.46 deaths per year with a mild fluctuation in the total number of deaths over all the years. The median value was 6,408 deaths. A marked elevation in the number of deaths was observed between 2004-2007 and 2014-2015. The highest number of causalities (16,867) was recorded in 2006, while the lowest number was in 2008 (4,063). Known to unknown and male to female ratio was 3.185 and 4.010, respectively. This study intends to highlight the challenges and achievements of the MLD during the conflict (2003–2015) and post-conflict period. The case load and identification issues presented the most important challenges for the staff at the MLD with rather limited facilities and co promised infrastructure. 


Forensic Sciences, Iraq Body Count Project, Iraqi conflict 2003-2015, Mass graves, Unidentified cadaver, MLD

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