The big news reported yesterday by Iraq Body Count was that civilian casualties had hit a new low :
Iraq Body Count (IBC) recorded 3,976 civilian deaths from violence in 2010 (compared to 4,680 in 2009). Evidence of these deaths was extracted from some 8,250 distinct reports collected from 143 sources, covering 1,601 incidents
Before the report IBC provided an addendum that stated
For as long as this conflict continues, its death toll can only rise with each passing year and so, too, the pain and grief associated with it. For those who have lost loved ones in 2010, there is no sense in which the year can represent an “improvement” on 2009.
How very true, and something that is usually glossed over in a news media that loves to focus on statistics rather than the specifics of each and every tragedy, each child that lost a mother or father, or each parent that lost a daughter or son. Many have already forgotten that Iraq has been the real and figurative graveyard of dreams for so many during the last eight years. Yet those who have lost will never forget.
Another addendum that could be added is the continuing trickle of Iraqis out of the country. This is especially reflected in Iraq’s minority Christian population, who since a gruesome attack on a Baghdad church in October have fled the country in droves. More than ninety Christian families have fled to Jordan alone, and these were only those who had reported their flight to UNHCR. One of the many tragedies that has befallen Iraq is the cleansing of its diversity, both along ethnic lines and along class lines. One example of ethnic cleansing would be that of the Mandean Christians, who now have less than 10% of their pre-war population remaining in Iraq. Along class lines, Iraq’s middle class has all but vanished, leaving an intense vacuum that once was the backbone of Iraq and which is in desperate need of filling.
Iraq’s success can not be determined by cold statistics alone, but by a determined effort to restore security and make it a safe place for its citizens. Until they come home, if they ever do, Iraq will be at the mercy of both political elites on the one hand, and Islamists on the other, both who seek to make Iraq into their image, and not that of Iraq’s diverse array of people.