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Concept: International humanitarian law


Introduction The number of civilians killed in Iraq following the 2003 invasion has proven difficult to measure and contentious in recent years. The release of the Wikileaks War Logs (WL) has created the potential to conduct a sensitivity analysis of the commonly-cited Iraq Body Count’s (IBC’s) tally, which is based on press, government, and other public sources. Hypothesis The 66,000 deaths reported in the Wikileaks War Logs are mostly the same events as those previously reported in the press and elsewhere as tallied by METHODS: A systematic random sample of 2500 violent fatal War Log incidents was selected and evaluated to determine whether these incidents were also found in IBC’s press-based listing. Each selected event was ranked on a scale of 0 (no match present) to 3 (almost certainly matched) with regard to the likelihood it was listed in the IBC database. RESULTS: Of the two thousand four hundred and nine War Log records, 488 (23.8%) were found to have likely matches in IBC records. Events that killed more people were far more likely to appear in both datasets, with 94.1% of events in which ≥20 people were killed being likely matches, as compared with 17.4% of singleton killings. Because of this skew towards the recording of large events in both datasets, it is estimated that 2035 (46.3%) of the 4394 deaths reported in the Wikileaks War Logs had been previously reported in IBC. CONCLUSIONS: Passive surveillance systems, widely seen as incomplete, may also be selective in the types of events detected in times of armed conflict. Bombings and other events during which many people are killed, and events in less violent areas, appear to be detected far more often, creating a skewed image of the mortality profile in Iraq. Members of the press and researchers should be hesitant to draw conclusions about the nature or extent of violence from passive surveillance systems of low or unknown sensitivity. Carpenter D , Fuller T , Roberts L . WikiLeaks and Iraq Body Count: the sum of parts may not add up to the whole-a comparison of two tallies of Iraqi civilian deaths. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2013;28(3):1-7 .

Concepts: Violence, Iraq War, 2003 invasion of Iraq, Iraq, War, Laws of war, Iraq Body Count project, International humanitarian law


Evidence of use of toxic gas chemical weapons in the Syrian war has been reported by governmental and non-governmental international organizations since the war started in March 2011. To date, the profiles of victims of the largest chemical attacks in Syria remain unknown. In this study, we used descriptive epidemiological analysis to describe demographic characteristics of victims of the largest chemical weapons attacks in the Syrian war. We analysed conflict-related, direct deaths from chemical weapons recorded in non-government-controlled areas by the Violation Documentation Center, occurring from March 18, 2011 to April 10, 2017, with complete information on the victim’s date and place of death, cause and demographic group. ‘Major’ chemical weapons events were defined as events causing ten or more direct deaths. As of April 10, 2017, a total of 1206 direct deaths meeting inclusion criteria were recorded in the dataset from all chemical weapons attacks regardless of size. Five major chemical weapons attacks caused 1084 of these documented deaths. Civilians comprised the majority (n = 1058, 97.6%) of direct deaths from major chemical weapons attacks in Syria and combatants comprised a minority of 2.4% (n = 26). In the first three major chemical weapons attacks, which occurred in 2013, children comprised 13%-14% of direct deaths, ranging in numbers from 2 deaths among 14 to 117 deaths among 923. Children comprised higher proportions of direct deaths in later major chemical weapons attacks, forming 21% (n = 7) of 33 deaths in the 2016 major attack and 34.8% (n = 32) of 92 deaths in the 2017 major attack. Our finding of an extreme disparity in direct deaths from major chemical weapons attacks in Syria, with 97.6% of victims being civilians and only 2.4% being combatants provides evidence that major chemical weapons attacks were indiscriminate or targeted civilians directly; both violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Identifying and quantifying chemical weapons violations requires inter-disciplinary collaboration to inform international policy, humanitarian intervention and legal action.

Concepts: Demography, Demographics, Chemical warfare, International law, International Committee of the Red Cross, Laws of war, International humanitarian law, Civilian


The health consequences of the ongoing US-led war on terror and civil armed conflicts in the Arab world are much more than the collateral damage inflicted on civilians, infrastructure, environment, and health systems. Protracted war and armed conflicts have displaced populations and led to lasting transformations in health and health care. In this report, we analyse the effects of conflicts in Iraq and Syria to show how wars and conflicts have resulted in both the militarisation and regionalisation of health care, conditions that complicate the rebuilding of previously robust national health-care systems. Moreover, we show how historical and transnational frameworks can be used to show the long-term consequences of war and conflict on health and health care. We introduce the concept of therapeutic geographies-defined as the geographic reorganisation of health care within and across borders under conditions of war.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq War, Iraq, International humanitarian law


The management of patients with impaled unexploded devices is rare in the civilian setting. However, as the lines of the traditional battlefield are blurred by modern warfare and terrorist activity, emergency providers should be familiar with facility protocols, plans, and contact information of their local resources for unexploded devices.

Concepts: Hospital, Device, Violence, Terrorism, Asymmetric warfare, International humanitarian law


Millions of children have been maimed, displaced, orphaned and killed in modern warfare that targets civilian populations. Several reviews have documented the impact of political trauma on children’s mental health but none has focused specifically on young children (ages 0-6). Since developmental factors influence the young child’s perception and experience of traumatic events, this developmental period is characterized by a unique spectrum of responses to political trauma. This systematic review, comprising 35 studies that included a total of 4365 young children, examined the effects of exposure to war, conflict and terrorism on young children and the influence of parental factors on these effects. Results showed that effects include PTSD and post-traumatic stress symptoms, behavioral and emotional symptoms, sleep problems, disturbed play, and psychosomatic symptoms. Correlations emerged between parental and children’s psychopathology and, additionally, family environment and parental functioning emerged as moderators of the exposure-outcome association for children.

Concepts: Psychology, Psychological trauma, Child, Violence, Stress, World War II, War, International humanitarian law


Blast-associated traumatic brain injury (TBI) has become one of the signature issues of modern warfare and is increasingly a concern in the civilian population due to a rise in terrorist attacks. Despite being a recognised feature of combat since the introduction of high explosives in conventional warfare over a century ago, only recently has there been interest in understanding the biology and pathology of blast TBI and the potential long-term consequences. Progress made has been slow and there remain remarkably few robust human neuropathology studies in this field. This article provides a broad overview of the history of blast TBI and reviews the pathology described in the limitedscientific studies found in the literature.

Concepts: Biology, Traumatic brain injury, Nuclear weapon, Terrorism, Asymmetric warfare, Laws of war, International humanitarian law, Conventional warfare


In armed conflicts, death is not an exceptional occurrence, but becomes the rule and occurs on a daily basis. Dead bodies are sometimes despoiled, mutilated, abandoned without any funeral rite and without a decent burial. Unidentified remains may be counted by hundreds or thousands. As a result, families look for years for missing relatives, ignorant of the fate of their loved ones. International Humanitarian Law, also called the laws of war or the law of armed conflict, is an international law branch, which has been developed to regulate and, as far as possible, to humanize armed conflicts. It contains a number of clear and concrete obligations incumbent to belligerent parties on the management of dead bodies, which provide the legal framework for humanitarian forensic action. The purpose of this article is to present, in a simple and concise manner, these rules with a view to extrapolate some key legal principles, such as the obligation to respect the dignity of the dead or the right to know the fate of relatives, which shall guide anyone dealing with human remains.

Concepts: Law, Human rights, International law, War, Laws of war, International humanitarian law, Geneva Conventions, Public international law


During the First World War injured servicemen were constructed as a better class of patient than civilians, and their care was prioritized in social and political discourses. For the mentally disordered servicemen themselves, however, these distinctions were permeable and transient. This article will challenge the reality of the ‘privileged’ service patient in civil asylums in Scotland. By examining the impact of the war on asylum structures, economies and patient health, this study will explore exactly which patients were valued in these difficult years. In so doing, this paper will also reveal how the lives of institutionalized ex-servicemen and the civilian insane inside district asylums were not quite as distinct as political and social groups would have liked.

Concepts: Health care, Health care provider, Mental disorder, World War II, World War I, Laws of war, International humanitarian law, Civilian


Understanding the effects of war on mental disorders is important for developing effective post-conflict recovery policies and programs. The current study uses cross-sectional, retrospectively reported data collected as part of the World Mental Health (WMH) Survey Initiative to examine the associations of being a civilian in a war zone/region of terror in World War II with a range of DSM-IV mental disorders.

Concepts: Earth, Mental health, Mental disorder, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Recovery model, World War II, CBC Radio One, International humanitarian law


Terrorist attacks have outreached to Europe with more and more attacks on civilians. Derived from war surgery experience and from lessons learned from major incidents, it seems mandatory for every surgeon to improve understanding of the special circumstances of trauma following a terrorist attack and its' management.

Concepts: Hospital, Surgery, English-language films, Injury, Knowledge, American College of Surgeons, American films, International humanitarian law