News & Comment

25 May 2009

Filed under News & Comment

Tainted data hide the cost if Africa's upheavals

Tainted data hide the cost if Africa's upheavals

Even by Africa's grim standars, it was a horrendous statistic: 5.4m peiple have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo from "war-related causes since 1998", claimed the International Rescue Committee in january last year.

The figure, based on a series of house-to-house visits across the country conducted by the New York-based agency, won widespread acceptance. It was used by the IRC and other relief bodies in their appeals for funds, cited by diplomats in their efforts to restore peace to the region and reported by journalists seeking a statistical shorthand for an African catastrophe.

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