“War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing”. Thus goes the popular classic soul song by Edwin Starr, and I couldn’t agree more. Easily romanticized in films and songs, war never paints a pretty picture for anyone. Like a game we played when we were young where you say the first thought you would associate with a given word- mine would be a horror if the word is WAR. It brings to mind destroyed and blackened buildings, raid sirens, injured civilians, terror scarred kids, boys forced to become grown men when weapons are shoved into their hands, raped women and the worst of the unpleasantness of man’s darker nature.
According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, of a total of 162 countries ranked worldwide, only 10 countries were technically not at war according to the 2016 Global Peace Index (GPI). The Global Peace Index is a gauge of the trends in global peace using 22 parameters that are broadly divided into three themes -the level of safety and security in society; the extent of domestic or international conflict; and the degree of militarization. The countries classified as war-free have not engaged in conflict either internally or externally.
On a positive note, the 2017 GPI report which ranked 163 countries, asserts that
- The world slightly improved in peace last year but has become less peaceful over the last decade, deteriorating by 2.14 per cent since 2008
- There has been a decline in militarization over the past three decades
The countries that are still at war that we consider would have had over a thousand deaths in the past calendar year. That pretty much rules out skirmishes, civil unrest, minor ethnic clashes and other kinds of conflicts. This does not reduce the impact on the families affected by such. However, we look at large scale militarized conflicts.
The countries that are still at war are :
Syria is currently ranked the least peaceful nation. The war started with the spread of the wave of Arab Spring protests in Syria in the early spring of 2011 demanding the eradication of President Bashar al-Assad’s government. The government’s forces meted out a violent response to these protests, which were heavily criticized by the European Union and the United Nations. Soon, the civilian protests transformed into an armed rebellion and escalated into the Syrian Civil War. There are over 17 thousand deaths recorded already in 2017.Over the course of 6 years, the war has claimed 300,000 people and displaced more than 11 million Syrians from their homelands. Many Syrian cities and towns are engulfed in waves of crime. The damage to 290 heritage sites across the country, especially those destroyed by ISIS, cannot be recovered.
Afghanistan is ranked 162 out of 163 with a GPI score of 3.567. Following the September 2001 attacks by the al-Qaeda terrorists, the United States attempt to eliminate Talibans and the band of terrorists led by Osama bin Laden and eradicate any form of resurgence brought this country to media attention. The US toppled Taliban in Afghan territory while rebuilding core institutions in the country, implementing counter-insurgency troops in the country to protect the civilians from further attacks, and to allow the Afghan government to establish its position in the country. Despite all of the measures undertaken, the current war situation in Afghanistan continues to claim civilian lives through bombings, crossfires, assassinations, improvised explosive devices, and other means. Over 1.2 million cumulative fatalities recorded. Many Afghans are fleeing their homeland in search of a better life in the Middle East and Western countries.
Iraq is no stranger to the ravages of war. The Second Kurdish–Iraqi War (1974), the Iran–Iraq War (1980), the Gulf War (1990), the US-Iraq War (2003) are some of the major that has devastated the country in recent times. The insurgency that started in 2014 became the Iraqi Civil War when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) conquered major areas in northern Iraq. Well known for their violence and ambitions, countries like the U.S., Iran, Syria, and other countries are aiding the Iraqi Government to resist the growth and spread of ISIS militants. The country is currently unstable and the GPI report indicates as much. Around 300,000 Iraqi’s have lost their lives to the current conflict.
South Sudan is the least militarized in the list of the countries at war, yet about 2 thousand Sudanese have lost their lives this year alone. Like most African countries in the central Africa, South Sudan has constantly been at war. After becoming an independent nation in 2011, it was gripped by war again in December 2013. Tens of thousands of people died and nearly 1.6 million residents were displaced. The 2014 ceasefire and 2015 peace agreement were lulls in the storm and has done little to stem the tide. Tension and conflicts continue to ravage the country. The death toll continues to rise. The United Nations Security Council claims that South Sudan currently is facing the worst food crisis in the world.
Yemen’s Civil started as a conflict between two factions that lay claim to the government –Forces, and allies of the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and the government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Al-Qaeda and ISIS have also used the opportunity to launch attacks and claim territory for themselves. According to the UN, over 16,000 people have lost their lives and countless more have been displaced. The war started in March 2015 and its effect on the farmers and rural communities has resulted in a severe lack of food. Even the availability of water has drastically reduced. Yemen is rated 159 of 163 with a GPI score of 3.412.
Other countries that are considered hotspots include Somalia, Libya, Sudan, Central African Republic, Ukraine, DR Congo, Pakistan, Russia, DPR Korea, Nigeria, Lebanon, and Turkey. The war and conflicts raging in these countries do not seem to be abating anytime soon except holistic approach to peace is attempted.