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Global Violence  Costs $14 Trillion
International

Global Violence Costs $14 Trillion

The cost of violence around the world reached a record $14.3 trillion in 2014, equivalent to the combined economies of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and the UK, a global security report said on Wednesday.

The divide between the most and least peaceful regions deepened with many Middle Eastern and African countries sinking further into violence, according to a 2015 Global Peace Index report, published by the Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace.

Libya, which has seen deepening sectarian conflict since the fall of autocrat Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, slipped more than any other country in the rankings over the past year, followed by Ukraine, Niger, Djibouti and South Sudan.

“The (cost of violence) has been largely associated with the increase of deaths in conflict, the ongoing economic consequences of conflicts in the countries where they’re occurring and also the increased cost associated with the displaced people,” IEP founder Steve Killelea told Reuters in a phone interview from London.

The cost of supporting refugees and internally displaced people has increased by 267% since 2008 to $128 billion as the numbers of uprooted people topped 50 million, the highest level since World War II.

However, it is expenses related to the military, police forces and dealing with homicides that have had the highest impact on costs, accounting for more than 68% of the total, said the study.

Despite conflict in the Ukraine, Europe continues to experience historic levels of peace, with a decrease in homicide rates and the withdrawal of forces from Iraq and Afghanistan.

But countries in volatile states such as Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan and Central African Republic have all become more violent than a year ago, according to the index of 162 states.

 Internal Conflicts

The 2015 GPI showed fewer conflicts between states and more within states. Last year, external conflicts were responsible for 74% fewer deaths than in 2008, the GPI showed.

The biggest deteriorations in peace resulted from a rise in the number of refugees and in more deaths from internal conflicts. The number of deaths has increased from 50,000 in 2008 to 180,000 last year.

The report said the world has not had so many refugees or internally displaced people since 1945. About 1% of the global population, or about 73 million people, have been forced to leave their homes amid a spike in armed conflict over the past four years.

Killelea warned that the rise in violence carried out by militant groups is likely to worsen in the coming years. Militant groups such as the Islamic State and Boko Haram have expanded their scope of operations and carried out 61% more killings last year than in 2008.

He said Nigeria, which suffers the second-most attacks among all countries by militants and extremists, would bear the brunt of more violence.

“We’re going to see a massive increase in the deaths resulting from Boko Haram.”

 Most Violent Regions

Middle East and Northern Africa are the world’s most violent regions overtaking South Asia, which ranked worst in last year’s study that covered 2013.

This year’s index showed 81 countries have become more peaceful in the past year, while 78 registered deepening violence.

However, prolonged conflict continues to pose grave economic problems. The conflict in Syria was estimated to have absorbed 42% of the country’s GDP. Afghanistan spent 31% of its GDP on containing violence, while Iraq spent 30%.

Iceland came top of the 2015 index, followed by Denmark, Austria, New Zealand, Switzerland, Finland, Canada, Japan, Australia and the Czech Republic. The US came in at 94th place, one spot above Saudi Arabia.

“With the changing dynamics within the region, it’s very hard to know what the solutions are and to make predictions for the next year,” said Killelea.

The study shows Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast and Benin have seen the biggest improvements in peace.

The index, published annually since 2008, ranks 162 countries on 23 indicators with the aim of painting a portrait of each country’s level of security, conflict engagement and militarization.

 

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