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Monday, 10 November 2014

Peace and war. Remembering the tragic toll of global violence and celebrating those that serve for our protection

In an annual tradition for DrPHealth, it is time to reflect on our progress (or lack thereof) in addressing global peace.   Three deaths in the past month of Canadian military personal on Canadian soil are a sobering reminder of the costs of a path other than peace.

2013 has seen two new armed conflicts and one resolved with 33 active conflicts – a number that has remained fairly constant for the past decade.  Seven of these are defined as wars with over 1000 deaths.  The formal listing of conflicts is found though the Uppsala Department of Peace and Conflict datasets accessible at UCDP/PRIO data files.   Wikipedia maintains a good list as well and lists 12 conflicts with over 1000 annual deaths and 29 additional conflicts.  Slight variance in definitions leads to inclusion of issues like the Mexican drug war as an armed conflict with Wikipedia and not a conflict under the PRIO guidelines.

The newest conflict being in the eastern regions of the Ukraine where so far this year an estimated 3700 people have died.  Four of these conflicts appear to have taken over 10,000 lives with the Syrian Civil War accounting for roughly 40% of all global armed conflict deaths in 2013 at nearly 75,000.  The ISIS conflict is now the second largest global cause of war related deaths while the South Sudanese  conflict has abated going into 2014 and the current year deaths estimated at only 10% of 2013 where deaths exceeding 10,000. 

At nearly 2 Million cumulative deaths the Afghani civil conflicts involving the Taliban  and 4.5 Million in the tensions between North and South Korea these have the largest cumulative toll.  The Korean conflict approaching 70 years and the Taliban insurgency 35 years speaking to the challenges of intergenerational conflicts in which families are in a constant state of potential crisis.

While total numbers of war related deaths are not easily tracked, the listing in Wikipedia once again suggests deaths in 2013 as about 100,000.   The positive news is that cumulative through early November in 2014 would suggest these numbers have decreased by about a third.  In addition to the Ukraine, the surging conflicts are in Libya, Nigeria and Central African Republic where combined deaths exceed the cumulative toll from Ebola.

Four Canadian have lost their lives in military duty, two within training exercise and Warrant Officer Patrick Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo in targeted killing on Canadian soil.  Fallen Canadians

The shooting of five RCMP with three deaths in Moncton in June, combined with one car crash and one on duty sudden cardiac event round out the list of those that have died in the service of protecting the people of our country from the effects of conflict.  Officer Down

In a tribute to those that serve to protect us, homicide in Canada continues to edge downwards with current rates about half of their peak in the mid 1970’s.  In honour of those that do serve, celebrate the success of their efforts Homicide in Canada 

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