Explainer: Iraq in 2010: Key stats

  • Image: Displaced Iraqi children in hut made of cans
    Ahmad al-Rubaye  /  AFP-Getty Images
    Internally displaced Iraqi Shiite children peek out from a hut made of mud and cooking oil cans at a squatter settlement in southern Baghdad on July 12, 2008.

    How to measure where Iraq is today compared to just before the U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in March 2003? While statistics tell only part of the story, they provide a quick snapshot of various categories — from war deaths to quality of life indicators.

    Below are some chosen for having recent and relatively reliable data. Richard Engel, NBC's chief foreign correspondent, adds his perspective from his time living and working in Baghdad. Click on the links on the left to find out more about key facts.

  • Fatalities

    Image: Brandon E. Maggart
    Pablo Martinez Monsivais  /  AP

    The estimate of civilian deaths tied to the war has declined since peaking in 2006 at 27,768 for that year. For January-July 2010, the estimate was 2,264 deaths. U.S. military fatalities peaked in 2007 at 904. The number of U.S. troops in Iraq topped 160,000 several times since 2003, and now stands at around 50,000.

    Source: Iraq Body Count, Defense Department

    Richard Engel: Estimates of the number of Iraqi causalities vary wildly. The number I’ve heard from my most reliable sources is around 150,000. Many Iraqis, however, believe the number is much higher. It is not uncommon for Iraqis to claim that they lost one million to the war. While I have never seen evidence to support this claim, it is important because that is the common perception. One million dead is the number many Iraqis use to calculate in their minds the cost of the war.

  • Displaced Iraqis

    Karim Kadim  /  AP

    2.76 million in November 2009, down from 2.84 million a year earlier but still high compared to 1.3 million in 2005. Seventy percent are women and children. Another 1.7 million Iraqis were living abroad in June 2009, down from a peak of 2.3 million who fled, mainly to Syria and Jordan.

    Source: Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, U.N.

    Richard Engel: The displacement statistics don’t tell a complete picture because often those who left Iraq were from specific communities. Iraqi Christians for example left at a disproportionately high rate, as did Iraqi professors and medical doctors.  

  • Food

    Image:Iraqi aid
    Anja Niedringhaus  /  AP

    Ninety percent of Iraqis get government-subsidized food rations of wheat, rice, sugar, tea and other basics — but distribution is uneven. The U.N. World Food Program helped 1 million Iraqis in December 2009, and estimates 6.4 million more are highly dependent on government safety nets.

    Source: U.N. World Food Program

    Richard Engel: Iraqis survived on these food rations under Saddam Hussein. Under his dictatorship, the food rations were basic, but complete. You could live off of them. Now, they are minuscule: just a few bars of soap or bags of rice. Iraqis still collect the rations, but can no longer live off them.

  • Health infrastructure

    While Iraq had 34,000 physicians in the early 2000s, by 2008 only 16,000 were still in the country — a trend that has not been reversed since Iraq's 2008 appeal for medical staff to return.

    Source: International Committee of the Red Cross

  • Communications

    Landlines have been stagnant, at around 40 per 1,000 people in recent years, but cell phones have soared from less than 1 per 1,000 in 2002 to 476 per 1,000 in 2008, the most recent year for which data is available.

    Those Iraqis with online access has grown tenfold, from less than 1 per 1,000 in 2002 to 10 per 1,000 in 2008.

    Source: International Telecommuncation Union

  • Corruption

    In 2003, Iraq was already 16 countries from the bottom of an annual ranking on perceived corruption. It's only gotten worse, being listed in 2009 as the fourth most corrupt country along with Sudan, and ahead only of Sudan, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Somalia.

    Transparency International

    Richard Engel: Iraqi corruption is insidious and appears to be getting worse.


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