Victims of Wars and Armed Conflicts

While in earlier wars in Europe the casualities were mainly military, the victims of today’s intra-state conflicts are primarily civilians. According to Oxfam the ratio of civilians among today’s casualties of war is as high as 80 to 84 %. Peace researcher Mary Kaldor states that in WW1 the ratio between civilian casualties and soldiers was 1 to 8 whereas now it is the exact opposite: 8 to 1.

The Iraq War is just one example: From March 2003 to the end of 2008, some 5,000 soldiers and at least 88,000 Iraqi civilians were killed. If the indirect consequences of war, such as terrorist attacks or the lack of medical care were included, then by mid-2006 the number of Iraqi civilian casualties had already reached a shocking 392,000 and 942,000 respectively (according to a study by the Johns Hopkins University published in The Lancet). By this method of calculation the casualty figures for Iraq have exceeded a million dead by now.

Many effects of war such as anti-personnel mines are still virulent decades after a conflict has ended. Because, in many countries, women are responsible for fieldwork and carrying water, they are frequently injured by mines. Other long-term consequences of war include the destruction of the environment and war traumas that are passed on to future generations. In many conflicts, male civilians are killed and females are raped. The massacre in Srebrenica, Bosnia, is one example; another is the devastation of Darfur in Sudan by mounted militias. There the demographic balance has shifted dramatically to the detriment of men – three-quarters of the victims are male.


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