Aidan Quinn | Editor in Chief
The world’s attention is a fickle thing. Global media, ourselves included, flit between the latest atrocity or crisis as they occur.
Too often do we forget that after the latest nerve gas attack or massacre that these conflicts rarely resolve themselves by the time the media, and our attention, has moved on.
Forget the standoff over North Korea, or in the South China Sea for a moment. Our list ranks the ten bloodiest conflicts that are happening right now.
Our list accounts for over 130,000 people killed in 2016 alone, and every day the blood shed continues.
Here are the Top Ten Conflict Zones of 2017:
10) The Yemeni Civil War
Commenced: 19 March, 2015 – Present
Death Toll in 2016: 1,500 people
Belligerents: Yemeni Government, Saudi Arabia, The Houthi Rebels, Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant (ISIL), Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
Total Death Toll: Estimated between 8,000 – and 16,000
Amount of people displaced: 3,143,572
When Houthi Rebels rose up and took control of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, in 2015, the swift grab for power by the rebels quickly spiralled into a regional proxy war.
The war is, on the surface, split between the core groups of the Houthi rebels and loyalist forces of the former Government. Whilst the Houthi rebels still control the capital, Saudi Arabia has now intervened on behalf of the fallen government with logistical and Intelligence support from the United States military. Iran has been supporting the rebels with arms, supplies and training.
Meanwhile, extremist groups such as ISIL and AQAP have used the chaos to take control of parts of the country side and launch attacks on all sides. The war shows no sign of abating, with the United States recently launching direct strikes on the country after a warship was attacked.
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9) The Libyan Crisis
Commenced: 15 February, 2011 – Present
Death Toll in 2016: 2,865 people
Belligerents: The Libyan Government, and rival General National Congress (GNC), Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Government of National Accord (GNA)
Total Death Toll: 14,382
While the Libyan revolution and civil war back in 2011 may have been the start of the “Arab Spring”, it has not, in the time since, resulted in a functioning state.
Originally starting as a reaction to the Despotic rule of autocrat Muammar Gaddafi, the civil war has since morphed into a fierce contest between opposing rebel groups for control of the once powerful oil state. The intervention of the United States and its allies in an air campaign did a fine job in supporting rebels to overthrow the old regime, however the West has been hesitant to involve itself once more in “state building”.
As consensus has broken down and the rebels have gone to war with one another, terrorist extremist groups such as ISIL have established themselves in the country side in an attempt to grab territory and supplies for themselves.
See how the instability has caused a flood of refugees in:
8) The Boko Haram Insurgency
Commenced: 26 July, 2009 – Present
Deaths in 2016: 3,523 people
Location: Northeast Nigeria, Northern Cameroon, Southeast Niger, Western Chad
Belligerants: Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Boko Haram and affiliated groups, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and affiliated groups
Total Death Toll: 47,700 confirmed, estimated to be many more
Internally displaced: 2,400,000
The Boko Haram insurgency is one of the biggest and most disruptive in Africa at the moment, with atrocities such as the kidnapping of 80 school girls to be taken as slaves and “wives”, shocking the world.
Originally an armed rebellion against the government of Nigeria, the group quickly grew in size to become the world’s deadliest terrorist group in terms of number of people it has killed. In 2014, the violence reached a peak of 10,849 deaths, with the insurgency spreading to Niger, Cameroon and Chad.
A multinational task force has been deployed to combat the group, though they still retain strength in numbers and territorial control across the region.
7) The War in Darfur
Commenced: 26 February, 2003 – Present
Death Toll in 2016: 1,936
Belligerents: Sudan, The United Nations, The Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM),
Displaced: 2,850,000 – 300,000,000 people
The war between separatists in Darfur and the Sudanese government has not slowed since 2003. Despite international attention to the initially fierce fighting and subsequent famine, the issue has not been resolved.
Clashes between rebels and government forces continue to displace people. The conflict is largely ethnic, with the government’s Arab aligned forces fighting against indigenous African tribal groups.
The African Union and United Nations have deployed a joint peace-keeping force to the area to discourage large-scale conflict.
6) The Kivu Conflict
Commenced: On and off since 2004
Death Toll in 2016: 607
Location: Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi
Groups involved: Democratic Republic of Congo, Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, The United Nations, FARDC rebel Tutsi forces and allied groups
Total Death Toll: 1,600,00
Displaced People: 1.4 million internally displaced persons
The Kivu conflict is a remnant of the Second Congo War when the Democratic Republic of Congo focused its attention on ethnic Hutu rebels such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda. Ethnic Tutsi groups have engaged in reprisal attacks, feeding into a spiral of ethnic cleansing that has made the Congo one of the bloodiest places in the world.
The ongoing fighting has killed millions and displaced millions more. Despite a United Nations task force, fighting continues across the eastern Congo as groups fight for control of territory. The Congo is rich in precious minerals that are used in “smart” devices, a source of income that is believed to fund and fuel the ongoing wars.
5) The Myanmar ethnic conflict
Commenced: 2 April, 1948 – Present
Deaths in 2016: 228
Groups involved: Myanmar Government, various Burmese rebel groups (Kachin, Kayin, Rakhine, and Shan State)
Total Death toll: Between 130,000 – 250,000 people
Displaced People: 600,000 – 1,000,000
The Myanmar insurgencies are the longest ongoing conflicts in the world, though rarely paid attention to.
After becoming independent from the United Kingdom in 1948, Myanmar has been unable to escape the continuing clashes between ethnic groups that have sought independence.
Over its troubled history, the government has sought to exert its control over these rebel regions through military power. Accusations of ethnic cleansing against these groups have been hard to verify, as the country remains largely closed to journalists and NGOs.
4) The Mexican Drug War
Commenced: 11 December, 2006 – Present
Deaths in 2016: 12,224
Groups involved: Mexico, The United States, Colombia, Sinaloa Cartel (and affiliated groups), Los Zetas, Rebel groups
Death toll: Between 98,000 – 138,000
Displaced People: 1,600,000
Since 2006, the Mexican Government has been locked in a war with drug cartels and trafficking syndicates which has left tens of thousands dead. The Mexican military, with the support of the United States, has intervened with the objective of eroding these criminals control over the drug trade, and to put a cap of drug-related violence.
Analysts estimate that the earnings from illicit drug trafficking into the United States may net $13.6 to $49.4 billion annually. Despite gains across the country, the cartels have been willing to fight with every means at their disposal against the Mexican military.
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3) The Iraqi Civil War
Commenced: 1st January 2014 – Present
Deaths in 2016: 23,898+
Belligerents: Republic of Iraq, Iran, Iraqi Kurdistan, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)
Total Death toll: 268,000 people
Displaced People: 4,525,968
In June of 2014, ISIL was born in northern Iraq and quickly established itself as an extremist group that could ruthlessly control large swathes of territory. It quickly defeated the fledgling Iraqi military, and grew to encompass vast swathes of Syria and Iraq.
Only with the intervention of Coalition forces has the fractious Iraqi government been able to cling to power. The cost, however, has been extreme, as the terrorist organisation has fortified itself in cities and townships to use civilians as human shields against the Coalition’s air-power.
While ISIL has been pushed back into its final stronghold of Mosul, the final battle for the city is sure to be a bloody one.
2) Syrian Civil War
Commenced: March 15, 2011 – Present
Deaths in 2016: 49,742 – 60,000
Belligerents: Syrian Government, Iran, Hezbollah, Russia, Turkey, Free Syrian Army rebels, Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant (ISIL), Kurdish independence groups
Total Death toll: Between 321,358 – 470,000
Displaced People: 7,600,000 internally displaced and over 4,800,000 refugees
The horrors of wh=at began as a popular uprising against dictator Bashar Al-Assad continues to drag on with no clear end in sight despite more than 1 in 10 people in Syria being killed.
The civil war has morphed into a multi-sided war between extremist groups such as ISIL, moderate rebels, the Russian backed regime, and Kurdish Independence fighters who are now fighting a Turkish incursion into Northern Syria.
The Obama Administration promised to intervene when the infamous “line in the sand” on chemical weapon use. The line was crossed, however America’s domestic audience had no stomach for another Middle Eastern Intervention, and thousands of Syrian civilians have died from such attacks and other horrors of war.
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1) The War in Afghanistan
Commenced: 7 October, 2001 – Present
Deaths in 2016: 23,539+
Belligerents: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and allies, Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant (ISIL) and affiliated groups, The Taliban and affiliated groups
Total Death toll: 1,240,000 – 2,000,000
Afghanistan tops our list as the bloodiest conflict zone in the world. Despite the U.S. and allies withdrawing, Afghanistan’s weak government and poorly trained army are locked in a war with the Taliban and other extremist groups.
Since Western forces have largely withdrawn, the Taliban has been on the offensive to regain ground and control. Tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians are killed every year, and the country continues to suffer from a war that began more than sixteen years ago.
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