SYDNEY (Web Desk) – The worsening conflict in the Middle East, the lack of a solution to the refugee crisis, and an increase in deaths from major terrorist incidents have all made the world less peaceful in 2016 than in 2015.
According to the 10th annual Global Peace Index, the world is becoming a more dangerous place and there are now just 10 countries which can be considered completely free from internal and external conflicts.
The Institute for Economics and Peace, a think tank which has produced the index for the past 10 years, says only Botswana, Chile, Costa Rica, Japan, Mauritius, Panama, Qatar, Switzerland, Uruguay and Vietnam are free from conflict.
Brazil’s drop out from the list of peaceful nations as one of the worst recent performers on the index represents a serious concern ahead of the Rio Olympics, the IEP’s founder Steve Killelea told The Independent.
But perhaps the most remarkable finding from this year’s peace index, he said, was the extent to which the situation in the Middle East had mired the rest of the world in conflict.
“If we look at the world overall, it has become slightly less peaceful in the last 12 months,” Mr Killelea said.
“But if we took the Middle East out of the index over the last decade – and last year – the world would have become more peaceful. It really highlights the impact the Middle East is having on the world.”
The index shows that 81 countries became more peaceful in the past year, while the situation deteriorated in 79.
“The key reason behind it is our inability to solve the conflicts which are emerging,” Mr Killelea said.
“The conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have been going for well over a decade, then it spilled into Syria in 2011, and afterwards into Libya and Yemen. That [failure] is really the key to the problem,” he explained.
According to Killelea, even the number of battlefield deaths around the world this year have been inflated by the Middle East conflict.
“If we take battlefield deaths for example, they are up at 112,000 – a 20-year high. But again, if you took out Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, they count for 75 per cent of those deaths,” he said.
Finally, the index identified Europe once again as the most peaceful region in the world, and by some margin, home to seven of the top 10 countries on the list.
Iceland was once again named the world’s most peaceful country, followed by Denmark, Austria, New Zealand and Portugal, the latter improving nine places. Syria was once again named the least peaceful country.
However, Europe is not immune to war as Britain, France, Belgium and others are heavily involved in external conflict in the Middle East, and face a growing threat to peace from international terrorism.