Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Bosnia's Book of the Dead

New study suggests Bosnian war claimed the lives of nearly 100,000 people - much lower than previously thought.
By Rebekah Heil
The number of people who were killed or disappeared in Bosnia’s 1992-1995 is around 50 per cent less than the widely accepted estimates of 200,000, according to the results of an extensive new study released in Sarajevo this week.

The Sarajevo-based Research and Documentation Center, IDC, conducted the research from 2004-2006, and the study - which claims there were 97,207 casualties - is currently the largest database on Bosnian war victims in existence. An international team of experts evaluated the findings before they were released.

Members of the armed forces accounted for 57,523 of the deaths, while civilian fatalities numbered 39.684, the IDC reported. Bosnian Muslims made up 66 per cent of the dead, Serbs 25 per cent and Croats eight per cent.

The IDC also found that half of the deaths and disappearances occurred during the first year of the war.

A team of 20 researchers visited 303 graveyards and combed the records of all three armed forces to compile information for the study.

They worked with thousands of sources and collected 21 facts about each victim, including names, nationalities, place and time of birth and death, and the circumstances of death. The study has been dubbed the “Bosnian Book of the Dead”.

The study does not include deaths due to accidents during the war, or due to reckless handling of weapons, starvation, or lack of medication.

Rebekah Heil is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

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