05/10/2017, 14.03
MIDDLE EAST
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A Middle East of blood: region home to the largest number of victims of conflict

It is the most dangerous area on earth with at least 82,000 deaths in 2016. Syria for the fifth consecutive year records the highest number of victims in a conflict: over 50,000. The socio-economic cost of wars also increases, involving more and more urban centers. Deaths decline on  global scale: 15,000 in 2016, against 167,000 in 2015.

Beirut (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Middle East still remains the most dangerous and lethal region on Earth, with at least 82,000 deaths last year in the various wars - Syria and Yemen above all. This is the result of a report published recently by the prestigious London International Research Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). And for the fifth consecutive year, Syrian conflict is the cause of the largest number of victims, with over 50,000 dead in 2016, bringing the total to about 290,000.

According to the "2017 Armed Conflict Investigation", seven of the 10 bloodiest wars fought last year are located in the Middle East: Iraq, Yemen, Turkey, and Afghanistan, the most affected nations followed by Sudan and Somalia. The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan resulted in 17,000 and 16,000 deaths respectively in 2016. The death toll in the ten-year clash that is consumed in Turkey between government and the rebel Pkk movement (the Kurdish Party of Workers), reached 3,000. This is the highest level ever recorded from 1997 to today.

In the 10 countries where the most bloody conflicts are consumed, researchers add 80% of the total 2016 dead in the world as a result of the war.

In addition to the victims, the data on refugees is also growing, both internally displaced and migrants. Between January and August last year there were 900,000 new internally displaced persons in Syria. The number of internally displaced persons in Iraq and Afghanistan over the same period reached 234,000 and 260,000.

The overall socio-economic cost of all these conflicts is "immense" and serves only to heighten the suffering of populations now on their last legs. Last year the International Monetary Fund had published a document from which it emerged that gross domestic product (GDP) in Syria halved between 2010 and 2015. The estimated loss for Yemen is between 25% and 35% In 2015 and in the previous year in Libya the GDP fell by 24%.

Wars, the experts warn, cause a surge in inflation and exchange rate pressures; At the same time, even neighboring nations often experience a slowdown in growth and a marked rise in consumer prices. The causes are the need to contribute to the well-being of refugees and to face the impact this causes on their economies. At the same time, the approximately $ 8 billion internationally allocated budget for peacekeeping missions is increasingly inadequate. An insufficient value to deal with the total number of operations in progress.

Another factor characterizing the recent conflicts is the fact that more and more urban centers are involved. The IISS study shows that refugees tend to gravitate more and more around cities, giving up refugee camps built in rural or isolated areas to host them. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, about 90% of Syrian refugees resettled in urban centers or in the peripheries of cities in neighboring nations.

And the wars themselves tend to increasingly invest urban centers - this is particularly apparent in the Syrian conflict and in the struggle between Ankara and Kurdish rebels in Turkey. Additionally, Afghanistan has increasingly seen a new Taliban strategy of striking in urban centers through suicide attacks or targeted war operations.

"The nature of the conflicts - says John Chipman, IISS Executive Director - is changing. And as the displaced people are increasingly heading toward urban centers, the same phenomenon is recorded for fighting. " If in the past the fighters used mountains or forests (see Vietnam War), adds the expert, today battlegrounds are more and more cities and this also aggravates the task of humanitarian workers.

The only note of [partial] consolation comes from the decline in the total number of deaths in conflicts: 157,000 in 2016, against 167,000 in 2015 and 184,000 in 2014.

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