Here’s How Many People Were Killed By Drone Strikes In 2014

photo by Jim Howard via Flickr modified by Curiousmatic 

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (IBIJ) estimates that casualties from drone missile attacks numbered at least 214 in 2014, an uptick from 176 in 2013.  

Despite the increase in strikes, according to the IBIJ, the drone program has decreased its civilian death rate from about three deaths per strike to about one and a half in the past decade.

This, experts believe, may have much to do with increasingly accurate drone missile technology.

While the impact of drone strikes are often hard to quantify given their classified nature and the general opaqueness of the drone program, the Bureau, as well as Long War Journal, and The New America Foundation, have used reliable news reports and other sources to help paint a portrait of America’s current drone wars.

So before we get to 2014, how do the trends stack up with 2013?

2013 vs. 2014

Drone deaths have ticked up substantially

While there were a reported 176 deaths from drones in 2013, in 2014 at least 206 were kiled by US drones.

This number coincides with an increase in the number of attacks.

Civilian deaths have declined significantly

Despite total death ranges estimated as high as 318 total death, the number of civilian deaths caused by drone attacks is noticeably smaller.

According to the IBIJ, in 2014 there were at least 5 people killed as opposed to 2013 when there were at least 22.

More drone strikes in Somalia

Suspected terrorists in Somalia were the target of three separate drone strikes in 2014, up slightly from two in 2013.

The targets of such attacks were high ranking militants in the prolific terrorist network Al-Shabab.

While no civilian deaths resulted from these attacks in 2014, according to the report, since 2004 such strikes have resulted in the death of 4-47 civilians and possibly two children.

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statistics from IBIJ

Number of people killed per strike hits an all-time high in Yemen

With 14 total strikes accounting for at least 82 deaths, the average attack killed nearly 6 people per incident in 2014. This number is up from almost 4 deaths per strike in 2013.

Fortunately, the civilian death toll has also decreased substantially from from a minimum of 17 in 2013 to a minimum of 4.


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graph from IBIJ

Drone toll in Pakistan remains about the same

Though the first five months of 2014 saw little activity in Pakistan, the year ended almost exactly the same as 2013.

According to the IBIJ there were a minimum of 112 deaths from drones and a total of 25 attacks. This is in comparison to 27 attacks in 2013 for a minimum of 114 deaths.

2014 In Drones

Below are a few key stats from the three most active drone theaters around the globe.


map from Wikipedia modified by Curiousmatic

The CIA’s drone program continues to be a divisive topic in the U.S., with a slight majority approval of 52 percent.

Its effectiveness, however, is up for debate. While the U.S. military officials agree that drone strikes have helped curtail the advancement of militant extremists like ISIS, there exists very few statistics which help support that opinion.

Some critics, like Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, have spoken out against the program, arguing that such strikes have only radicalized ordinary civilians who have in some cases fallen victim to drone attacks gone awry.

Like it or hate it, the drone program is here to stay for the foreseeable future, and with 87 countries now with drone technology, we might just be seeing a lot more of them.

We measure success by the understanding we deliver. If you could express it as a percentage, how much fresh understanding did we provide?
James Pero