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Armed Conflict More Lethal, Deaths from Global Violence Decrease

  • Lisa Schlein

A boy holding a weapon stands under a Yemeni national flag, as followers of the Houthi group demonstrate against an arms embargo imposed by the U.N. Security Council on the group in Sanaa, April 16, 2015.

A boy holding a weapon stands under a Yemeni national flag, as followers of the Houthi group demonstrate against an arms embargo imposed by the U.N. Security Council on the group in Sanaa, April 16, 2015.

A report released Friday stemming from a small arms survey estimates 508,000 people have met a violent death every year from 2007 to 2012. Nevertheless authors of The Global Burden of Armed Violence 2015 note the number represents a small decrease in the number of global violent deaths reported in previous years.

The three percent decline from the number of violent deaths recorded between 2004 and 2007 is a bit of good news. But, small comfort to the more than 1.5 billion people around the world who live in countries affected by violence and conflict.

While the global number of violent deaths has gone down, the report finds a larger proportion of deaths were directly related to conflict. It also finds the economic impact of homicide has increased to $171 billion in 2010 from $160 billion in 2000.

Small Arms Survey Research Director Anna Alvazzi del Frata says data show most cases of violent deaths were concentrated in a group of eight, mainly non-conflict countries, with many of the deaths related to criminality and homicide.

These countries, she says, averaged more than 30 violent deaths per 100,000 people.

"So, this means that the level here is more than four times higher than the global average. These 18 countries represent only approximately 4 percent of the world population, but experience almost one quarter of the total violent deaths. And in this group of countries, only one-third is at war. They are concentrated mostly in parts of Latin America…and Africa," said del Frata.

In 2012, the report ranked Syria, with more than 180 per 100,000 deaths, as the world’s most violent country, followed by Honduras and Venezuela.

The report says domestic violence remains a huge problem, but it finds the number of female victims of homicide in 2012 had decreased globally by almost 10 percent from 2004 to 60,000 in 2012. It says Honduras and El Salvador had the most dramatic increases in the rate of female homicides. While South Africa registered the sharpest drop. It says the number of women murdered in that country every year remains high.

The Small Arms Survey says firearms were used in 44 percent of all violent killings followed by knives, which account for one-third of all killings.

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