Proponents of aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo often cite a 2008 report from the International Rescue Committee that put the death toll from that country's wars at over 5 million. But one university group has challenged the IRC's report, casting into doubt widely used methods for calculating war deaths and highlighting how death toll estimates can themselves become controversial political tools.

War is Boring: DRC Death Toll Debate Raises Questions

By , , Column

In the U.K.'s House of Lords on Feb. 3, members of parliament debated expanding Great Britain's aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo, the site of several intersecting security and humanitarian crises. "Some 5 million people have died there since 1998," said Lord David Alton of Liverpool. "It is the most deadly conflict since World War II."

Alton based his figure for Congolese war deaths on a widely cited 2008 report from the International Rescue Committee, which claimed that 5.4 million Congolese had died of war-related causes between 1998 and 2007. The causes included starvation, disease and combat between government forces and rebel groups. ...

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