Dec 30, 2019

The global cycle of violence, hunger and migration

Dave Lawler, author of World
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Data: UNHCR; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The number of people killed in armed conflicts has fallen from a recent high of 143,409 in 2014 — the height of the Syrian civil war — to 77,392 last year, per the Uppsala Conflict Data Program.

Zoom in: That's still more people than were killed in 2009 and 2010 combined. This year's deadliest conflicts were in Afghanistan and Syria.

The big picture: No two countries went to war over the past decade. In fact, that hasn't happened since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

  • Today's deadliest conflicts are civil wars and insurgencies, though some of the fighting — Syria, Libya, Yemen — is fueled by foreign powers.

Armed conflicts are a major driver of the world's most dire food crises.

  • They are in Yemen, South Sudan, Venezuela, Sudan and Zimbabwe.
  • 10.8% of people around the world are undernourished, down only slightly from a decade earlier. The rate in sub-Saharan Africa (22.8%) is actually slightly higher than a decade ago, per the UN.

Violence and hunger in turn drive migration.

  • There are upward of 60 million refugees in the world today, the most since World War II.
  • Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia are the biggest sources of refugees.
  • 85% of refugees are housed in the developing world, with massive burdens falling on countries like Colombia, Bangladesh and Uganda.

Go deeper: The countries where happiness and misery are growing

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