Armed conflict refers to the use of armed force between two or more groups. The groups may be governmental or non-governmental, interstate, or non-state conflict. Armed conflict fatalities refer to deaths that come as a result of armed conflict. The fatalities include battle-related deaths and civilians intentionally targeted by the conflicting parties. In 2016, 99,000 people died as a result of armed conflict. Although this number is lower than 2015 (119,000) and 2014 (143,000), it is more than double the number from 2004 (42,000). Global conflicts are becoming deadlier as conflicting parties employ the use of deadly weapons that includes chemical warfare. Thousands of innocent civilians find themselves in the crossfire and end up as collateral damage. The American invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and the failed governments in Yemen, Libya, Iraq, and Syria have contributed significantly to the death toll.
Countries With the Highest Armed-Conflict Fatalities
The Syrian conflict has claimed about 400,000 lives since it began in March 2011. The war has displaced 22 million million and forced around 5 million to flee the country. The Syrian conflict is a complicated war that involves major superpowers including the United States and Russia, Iran, the Syrian government, Turkey, and Israel. Several rebel and terror groups are also engaged including the Islamic State. The war has witnessed the deployment of some of the most technologically advanced weaponry and chemical warfare. In 2017, at least 39,000 people died in Syria because of the ongoing conflict compared to 49,000 in 2016. The figure included 10, 500 civilians of whom 2,100 were children. About 2,900 government soldiers and 7,500 militant fighters were among the dead.
Afghanistan remains a civilian graveyard 16 years after the US invaded the country in search of the Taliban. Thousands of people die annually because of the conflict between the American backed government troops and the Taliban. In 2017, 23,000 people died in Afghanistan including 4,000 civilians. The Taliban has changed tactics and intensified the use of car bombs, improvised explosive devices, and suicide bombers. Innocent civilians in schools, mosques, marketplaces, and public gatherings were targeted. Thousands of fighters were also killed in American led airstrikes and retaliatory attacks by the Taliban.
Mexico is the deadliest country outside a civil war or a fight against terrorism. The country is fighting a totally different kind of war that is resulting in the death of thousands. The drug war in Mexico is claiming as many lives as the war against terrorism in Iraq. About 14,771 people died in Mexico in 2017 when government troops and drug gangs engaged in conflict. Drug cartels also target each other with the aim of eliminating competition. The cities of Los Cabos, Acapulco, Tijuana, La Paz, and Victoria were named among the ten most dangerous cities in the world in 2017. In October of 2017, the country witnessed the death of 2,300 people.
Trends in Global Conflict
Global conflicts are not showing any signs of ending anytime soon; in fact, they are more likely to increase. The Middle East and Africa are the most affected as political instabilities make way to the rise of terror groups and civil wars. Apart from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, other places of interest include South Sudan, Somalia, and West African states. The drug wars in Mexico and the Philippines is likely to result in more casualties.