UPDATE 1-Wars less deadly than they used to be, report says

Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:28am GMT

* Mortality rates decline even in wartime, report says

* 5.4 million Congo death rate figure "far too high"

(Adds comment from IRC)

By Patrick Worsnip

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Wars are less deadly than they once were and national mortality rates have continued to decline even during conflicts due to smaller scale fighting and better healthcare, a report said on Wednesday.

The report by a Canada-based project sponsored by four European governments also dismissed a widely cited figure of 5.4 million people killed in wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo as "far too high."

It offered no exact alternative figure but suggested the true toll could be less than half that. The group that issued the original figure, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), stood by its findings and rejected the new report.

"We believe that the costs of war, the deadliness of wars, the number of people getting killed per conflict per year, has gone down pretty dramatically," project director Andrew Mack told a news conference at the United Nations.

Since 2000, the average conflict has killed 90 percent fewer people each year than in the 1950s, said the Human Security Report Project at Vancouver's Simon Fraser University.   Continued...

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