Death toll comparisons

In a previous post, I presented some comparisons of conflict death tolls according to regions, and compared them with media coverage. Here is another set of comparisons to help keep the scale of conflicts throughout the world in perspective.


The death toll from the world’s deadliest conflict of our times – the DRC (5,400,000) – is compared to the death tolls of a number of other better-known conflicts – those in Israel-Palestine (5,000), Kosovo (10,000), Bosnia (60,000) and Darfur (300,000). The square area of each circle is proportionate to the death toll of each conflict.



Death toll comparison: DRC and Israel-Palestine



Death toll comparison: DRC and Kosovo



Death toll comparison: DRC and Bosnia



Death toll comparison: DRC and Darfur



(Death tolls are approximations (see this post) and are calculated as of 2007)

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27 Responses to “Death toll comparisons”

  1. Great and very helpful post. Thanks.
    Best regards,

  2. […] Stealth Conflicts suggests this is the death toll comparison between the conflict in the DRC and the Palestine-Israeli conflict. I am sure that this estimation (based on known figures) is very close to the real figure. […]

  3. […] Death toll comparisons « […]

  4. […] a comment » The Stealth Conflicts blog puts up a great view for all of us to see: the casualties comparison in different world conflicts. For example, the […]

  5. […] Stealth Conflicts has an excellent illustration of what one might call the “casualty footprint” of conflicts. (I suggested a similar procedure with the media footprint of conflicts.) This is a visual way to bring forward the strikingly low casualties of the Arab-Israeli conflict. H/T: Honest Reporting […]

  6. […] Some perspective from Stealth Conflicts (hat tip: Backspin) The death toll from the world’s deadliest conflict of our times – the DRC […]

  7. Very good post! I have posted a less scientific (but, I hope, also helpful) extension of the idea at my blog.

  8. Thank you Yaacov. I will take a look at your blog.

  9. […] Stealth Conflicts has a neat graphic representing the relative death tolls of recent conflicts in the world. I […]

  10. tacticalsniper Says:

    I’m listening now to Dore Gold’s “Tower of Babble”. Among other things, he talks about UN’s dramatic involvement in some conflicts (like the Israeli-Palestinian one) while totally ignoring some others (like Darfur). Your charts provide a good informational addition to me on the subject.

  11. Thanks for the message, Tacticalsniper. Glad you found it useful. I can’t say I’ve read the book Tower of Babble, but I do think we need to be careful about talking about the UN as a singular and unified body. The Secretary-General, Security Council and the General Assembly all are part of the UN, for example, but are so different they may as well be completely separate organizations. As such, when looking at the shortcomings of ‘the UN’, we need to look at who exactly is responsible. If it is a problem with the Secretary-General, then the responsibility is easy to pin down, but the SG has so little power to begin with. If the problem is with the Security Council, on the other hand, then this is not so much an issue of ‘the UN’, but of the most powerful unelected (otherwise known as the permanent) members – the ones who make the decisions based largely on their own interests.

  12. Virgil,

    First of, it seems I still have a lot to learn to reach your level. Thank you for sharing some of your expertise.

    Honestly, I didn’t think much of UN as it is, after reading the book, reading how UN stood by during massacres in Rwanda, Bosnia and others… No reason to be part of it anymore, IMO.

  13. Tacticalsniper, there is a lot of propaganda and unfair UN bashing out there (different parts of the UN deserve a bit of bashing, but it should be well-founded and fair).

    ‘The UN’ does tend to generally stand by during many conflicts and massacres, but this is almost always because the decisionmakers decide to stand by. Such decisions are made by the UN Security Council, which is a body dominated by the world’s powerful countries. They usually decide to stand by when it is not particularly in their interests (too expensive, too messy, nothing to benefit etc.), or when it is in their interests to keep things quiet.

    In short, it is the powerful countries that make the decisions about what the UN should and shouldn’t do. The UN Secretary-General and the UN Secretariat really don’t come into the equation when push comes to shove (the Secretary-General can make recommendations, but that’s about it). You may be interested in my other book: The Silence of the UN Security Council.

    At least much of the world is aware that ‘the UN’ has stood by during massacres in Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. But what about the massacres for which everybody seems to stand by, and therefore few even speak out about? The DRC, Burundi, Angola – these are key examples. I write this blog for those massive conflicts that do not even generate outrage, let alone response…

  14. Virgil,

    I suspect by now you have seen how your impressive work is being used. It is being used by all the above sites to demonstrate just how just and noble and restrained is Israel’s military. This is clearly not your intent, and it never fails to amaze me how people will intentionally miss the larger intent of a study — look at how the Congo war is ignored — and co-opt it to serve a political agenda.


  15. Yes, Ken. Thanks for noticing. These graphs for some reason seem to have been picked up by some and used to show that Israel is being unfairly demonized. And you are absolutely right, this was not at all my intention. The whole point is about showing how the massive conflict in the DRC is being ignored (I thought the large red circle would have done the job).

    With the attention and background knowledge on the DRC so low to begin with, it must be difficult to take off the blinders and see the scale of the problem here. In general, it is difficult for people to know what to do with new information, and they tend to revert to processing the new information in the context of what they think they already know… New data is co-opted for the established cause.

    Our work is certainly cut out for us and the road ahead is indeed going to be long…

  16. I posted the graphs on my blog and I did notice that Israel is being unfairly treated, IMO, but the intent was that while the situation in Israel is being widely covered, many massacres, much worse than what happened in Gaza, for example, are being totally ignored by the media. I guess there are different people around and they do use the graphs for different purposes.

  17. It would be great if you highlighted some backgrounds on conflict of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which is the main focus of this post.

  18. […] Konflikten får mindre opmærksomhed end dræbte i Gaza, men konflikten målt i antal dræbte er 1000 gange alvorligere i CONGO, men Gaza løber med opmærksomheden. Enhver konflikt er da også en for meget og en dræbt er en […]

  19. Unfortunately, the world simply ignores Africa. It is not in Europe itself rich and civilized, so these conflicts go unnoticed.

  20. The Wisdom of Crowds and the Irrationality of Mobs…

    Homo sapiens is Latin for “wise man” or “knowing man”; it is often used synonymously as “thinking man” and has been misunderstood to mean “rational man” in the collective imagination. We imagine ourselves to be rational; the idea that unconscio…

  21. […] Stealth Conflicts (via Augean Stables) demonstrates the issue with a clever chart […]

  22. Just want to thank you. We’ve used this graphic several times, and I just wrote about it (with a link) in the middle of a post to our blog, Congo Currents ( Did you see Nick Kristof’s column last February where he updated the Congo death toll? It’s a really interesting piece. Here are two links: Kristof’s column:, and my blog post about it: Keep up the good work!

  23. Hello Paul Carlson Partnership.

    Thanks for making use of my work and for the words of encouragement. I read your blog, and see the work you are doing in the DRC. Did you take part in Congo Week, by the way? It has just finished. We held a number of events here in Osaka to raise awareness about the situation.

    Yes, I did see Nick Kristof’s ‘update’ of the death toll. Actually, the IRC’s figures on the DRC death toll have been challenged this year (The Human Security Report thinks they may be considerably overestimated). While I think care needs to be taken in measuring/expressing death tolls, I still find it difficult to understand why obviously huge death tolls can be so meaningless in determining the response to the conflicts. Our work goes on…

  24. […] globally. The graphic, called simply “Death Toll Comparisons,” is found in a blog, and here’s a link to it. Keep in mind that these charts used 2007 death toll data. The numbers have certainly grown in […]

  25. Michael Jacobs Says:

    The author compares the war between the Palestinian Arabs and Israel to other armed conflicts, and concludes that its casualty number is relatively small. But the argument is false: a patient who has a broken leg as well as a mosquito bite should be treated for both issues. Also, I think we shouldn’t compare at this time. The ‘Palestine’ war is far from over – if Iran, America and Russia get involved, the Congo numbers may appear small. What can we do to lessen the chance for that to happen, instead of deflect our attention and look the other way?

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