U.S. wars since 9/11 have displaced at least 37 million people, according to a major new study.
The report, by Brown University in Rhode Island, says that figure is a conservative estimate and the true number of people who have fled their homes in the eight most violent wars the U.S. military has launched (or participated in) since 2001 could be closer to 48–59 million.
The victims of these U.S. wars are from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Libya and Syria.
And millions more have been displaced by other post-9/11 conflicts involving U.S. troops in smaller combat operations, including in: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Niger, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.
The report says that 25.3 million people have returned after being displaced, although that does not erase the trauma of displacement or mean that those displaced have returned to their original homes or to a secure life.
Since the George W. Bush administration launched a “global war on terror” following Al Qaeda’s September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, the U.S. military has waged war continuously for almost two decades. In that time, U.S. forces have fought in wars or participated in other combat operations in at least 24 countries.
The report says the destruction inflicted by warfare in these countries has been incalculable for civilians and combatants, for U.S. military personnel and their family members, and for entire societies.
The report says: “Like other wars throughout history, the U.S. post-9/11 wars have caused millions of people – the vast majority, civilians – to fear for their lives and flee in search of safety. Millions have fled air strikes, bombings, artillery fire, drone attacks, gun battles and rape. People have fled the destruction of their homes, neighbourhoods, hospitals, schools, jobs, and local food and water sources. They have escaped forced evictions, death threats, and large-scale ethnic cleansing set off by the U.S wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in particular.”
The report comes as Americans are commemorating the 19th anniversary of 9/11.
President Trump attended a morning service at the Shanksville memorial, where Flight 93 crashed after its 40 passengers and crew prevented hijackers from reaching the U.S. Capitol building.
“To the family members of Flight 93: today every heartbeat in America is wedded to yours,” Mr Trump said. “Your pain and anguish is the shared grief of our whole nation.
“The memory of your treasured loved ones will inspire America for all time to come. The heroes of Flight 93 are an everlasting reminder that no matter the danger, no matter the threat, no matter the odds, America will always rise up, stand tall and fight back.”
Nearly 3,000 people died when four hijacked airliners were crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and the field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on 11 September 2001.
Some 400,000 people were injured or exposed to other contaminants in the aftermath of the attacks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Hundreds of first responders and survivors have died in the years since due to related illnesses, like cancer.
Weeks after the attack, the U.S. sent troops to Afghanistan to combat the al-Qaeda. The so-called War on Terror has since stretched decades and American intervention in the Middle East continues.