Baghdad morgue received over 1,000 bodies in July

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The bodies of over 1,000 civilians were brought to Baghdad's morgue last month, the highest recorded death toll for Iraq's capital since the invasion began in March 2003.

Amid preparations for the new Iraqi constitution, the Interim Government has tried to suppress details of the growing number of civilian casualties, but the truth emerged after British veteran journalist Robert Fisk paid a visit to the morgue and was shown the human cost of Iraq's security crisis:

So many corpses are being brought to the mortuary that human remains are stacked on top of each other. Unidentified bodies must be buried within days for lack of space — but the municipality is so overwhelmed by the number of killings that it can no longer provide the vehicles and personnel to take the remains to cemeteries.[1]

'The July figures are the largest ever recorded in the history of the Baghdad Medical Institute,' one of the senior managers at the morgue said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

An estimated 1,100 bodies were received by the Baghdad mortuary in July, a rise of 85% compared with figures for the same month before the US-led invasion. The latest figures show a rising trend: in 2004 and 2003 the numbers in July were 800 and 700 respectively. By comparison, equivalent figures for 1997, 1998 and 1999 were all below 200.

All of last month's dead are civilians, the majority male and most aged between 15-44. Fisk, writing in The Independent, described how the task of identifying all of the bodies has been complicated because many have been tortured or otherwise disfigured. 'In many cases, the remains have been shattered by explosions — possibly by suicide bombs — or by deliberate disfigurement by their killers,' he wrote.

The medical authorities have buried 500 nameless bodies since January.