Indirect Mortality

Forensic Architecture

The casualties of war extend far beyond the numbers of soldiers and civilians who die violently in battles. War creates “indirect mortality” in populations involved—largely through the spread of infectious disease, destruction of assets, diminished access to basic healthcare, hunger, malnutrition, and the diversion of scarce resources away from basic services. Figures for indirect mortality, referring to avoidable deaths that either resulted from negligence or were intentionally allowed, are difficult to establish; they are buried in comparative statistical calculations of trends in mortality rates. Indirect mortality rates are rarely used even among those aiming to mobilize world opinion against instances of oppression. The difficulty in establishing and thus protesting against indirect mortality also contributes to the capacity of militaries and states to exercise subtle forms of killing: for example, through the destruction and degradation of environmental conditions, in order to affect the quality of water, hygiene, nutrition, and healthcare, or by restricting the flow of life-sustaining infrastructure, forbidding the importing of water purifiers and much-needed vitamins, and by making it difficult for patients to travel.

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