STEVEN R. HURST
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The U.N. civilian casualty count for 2006 was announced in Baghdad by Gianni Magazzeni, the chief of the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq in Baghdad.
He said 34,452 civilians died — an average of 94 a day — and 36,685 were wounded.
But Dr. Hakem al-Zamili, Iraq's deputy health minister, told The Associated Press the United Nations may be using unreliable sources for its casualty count. "They might be taking the figures from people who are opposed to the government or to the Americans," he said. "They are not accurate."
He said he would provide Iraqi government figures later this week.
In early January, a compilation of Iraqi government figures put last year's civilian deaths at just 12,357. The numbers are gathered monthly by the AP from reports by three Iraqi agencies.
When asked about the difference, Magazzeni said the U.N. figures were compiled from information obtained through the Iraqi Health Ministry, hospitals across the country and the Medico-Legal Institute in Baghdad.
He criticized the government for allowing much of the violence to go unpunished, saying urgent action was needed to re-establish law and order in the country to prevent its slide into all-out civil war.
"Without significant progress in the rule of law, sectarian violence will continue indefinitely and eventually spiral out of control," he warned.
The U.N. report also said that 30,842 people were detained in the country as of Dec. 31, including 14,534 held in U.S. military-run prisons.
At least 470,094 people throughout Iraq have been forced to leave their homes since the bombing of an important Shiite shrine, the Golden Dome mosque in Samarra, in February, the U.N. accounting said.
The report said the violence has disrupted education by forcing schools and universities to close, as well as sending professionals fleeing from the country.
In a summary of the report posted on its Web site Tuesday, UNAMI said Iraq's women were particularly vulnerable, citing cases where young women were abducted by armed militia and late discovered sexually assaulted, tortured or murdered.
In many cases, the agency said, families refuse to retrieve the bodies out of shame.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007