A new study says Afghanistan has replaced Syria as the "least peaceful country in the world.”
The Global Peace Index, an annual report by the Sydney-based think tank the Institute for Economics and Peace, says security developments in Syria, including the defeat of the Islamic State militants, has pushed Afghanistan to become the least peaceful country among the 163 states covered by the study.
“The war in Afghanistan is now the most violent in the world,” Mohib Iqbal, a research fellow at the institute, told RFE/RL’s Gandhara website. “In 2017, there were some 18,000 combatant casualties, and that number has increased since.”
He says that overall more than 30,000 combatants and non-combatants were killed in Afghanistan during the past year.
According to a United Nations report in February, 2018 was the most violent year for civilians. The report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said that more than 11,000 Afghan civilians were killed and wounded in attacks by militants, airstrikes, military sweeps, and fighting between the Afghan forces and militants.
“Violence has consistently increased in Afghanistan during the past five or six years,” Iqbal noted.
He said the defeat of the Islamic State militants in Syria and the reduction of violence in the country to a few pockets have significantly decreased the overall violence in Syria.
“This is why Syria has moved to the second place and it is being replaced by Afghanistan as the least peaceful country in our index,” he said.
The Global Peace Index 2019 says the world has become “very slightly” more peaceful for the first time in five years. But conflicts in the Middle East, a rise in terrorism, and increasing numbers of refugees still make it "considerably less peaceful now” than a decade ago.
The war in Afghanistan is considered one of the most intractable conflicts in the world. It began after a violent coup by communist military officers in 1978. Since then, more than 1 million Afghans are estimated to have been killed and injured. The various phases of the war have also displaced more than 10 million Afghans.