Dec 30, 2019

The global cycle of violence, hunger and migration

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

Go deeper

The decade of the very poor and the super rich

Data: The World Bank and World Poverty Clock. Note: 1999-2015 World Bank figures are incomplete in South Asia. 2016-2019 figures are World Poverty Clock projections. Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The 2010s may be remembered as the decade when the global 1% accumulated unfathomable wealth, but it was also perhaps the best decade ever for the world’s poorest people.

The big picture: The rate of extreme poverty around the world was cut in half over the past decade (15.7% in 2010 to 7.7% now), and all but eradicated in China.

Go deeperArrowDec 30, 2019

The countries where happiness and misery are growing

The world's happiest countries do this a lot. Photo: TF-Images/Getty Images

It's hardly surprising that Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland top the UN's latest World Happiness report. Nordic countries always dominate such lists.

But, but, but: Some countries became much happier, and others much less happy, over the past decade. Overall, happiness increased between 2008 and 2018 in 78 of the 132 countries in the rankings (based on "how happy citizens perceive themselves to be").

Go deeperArrowDec 30, 2019

Sudan's prime minister makes "historic" visit to rebel stronghold

Brother and sister in a Nuba Mountains village in 2018. Photo: Paul Jeffrey/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

Thursday was a remarkable day in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains, with senior officials including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok visiting the rebel stronghold for the first time in a decade alongside officials from the UN, which was itself forced out of the area in 2011.

The big picture: The region remained part of Sudan after South Sudan broke away in 2011. That led to a rebellion that was put down through a relentless bombing campaign. The war-ravaged area remained almost entirely cut off from international aid until now.

Go deeperArrowJan 10, 2020