Global terror attacks 'at an all-time high' - study
Terrorist attacks are at an all-time high and there are more refugees now than at any time since the Second World War, according to a new study that suggests the world is becoming more violent.
The worsening conflict in the Middle East, the lack of a solution to the migrant crisis and an increase in major terrorist incidents have all contributed to making the planet less peaceful, the 2016 Global Peace Index found.
The index showed that most attacks it classed as terrorist were concentrated in five countries - Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The bloody civil war in Syria, which was rated the least peaceful country, and Iraq, has also had an effect elsewhere.
According to the research, the breadth of terrorism was spreading. There are now only 10 countries considered completely free from conflict: Botswana, Chile, Costa Rica, Japan, Mauritius, Panama, Qatar, Switzerland, Uruguay and Vietnam.
Europe, which is still rated as the most peaceful continent, saw its average score deteriorate in this year's report in the wake of Isil atrocities in Paris and Brussels, with deaths from terrorism in Europe having more than doubled over the last five years.
Britain, France, Belgium and other European countries are heavily involved in external conflict in the Middle East and face a growing threat from international terrorism.
Deaths from conflict were also at a 25-year high, according to researchers at the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), which produces the index.
More than 100,000 people were killed in conflict in 2014, up from nearly 20,000 in 2008. Syria, where nearly 67,000 people were killed in 2014, accounted for the bulk of the increase, according to the index.
The violence in Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan, as well as rising sea levels and climate change, were the main causes for people fleeing their homes.
The United Nations has said the number of displaced people is likely to have "far surpassed" a record 60 million last year.
"If we took the Middle East out of the index over the last decade - and last year - the world would have become more peaceful," said Steve Killelea, founder of the IEP. "It really highlights the impact the Middle East is having on the world."
There were some positives. Panama, Thailand and Sri Lanka showed the most improvement. And Iceland was once again the world's most peaceful country listed in the index, followed by Denmark, Austria, New Zealand and Portugal.
Meanwhile, a US-backed alliance of fighters in Syria is ready to enter the Isil-held city of Manbij, but is being cautious due to the presence of civilians there, a spokesman said yesterday.
The Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, backed by US-led air strikes, has advanced to the outskirts of Manbij one week into a campaign aimed at ultimately dislodging Isil from its last foothold on the Turkish border.
"Any moment that we want to enter it, we can, but because of the presence of civilians... we are being cautious about entering the city," Sharfan Darwish of the Manbij Military Council told Reuters. "I can say that the matter of liberating Manbij is settled," he said. "When the time comes we will enter it of course."
The offensive includes the powerful Kurdish YPG militia, which controls wide areas of northeastern Syria, and its Arab allies. Dislodging Isil from the last stretch of the Syrian-Turkish frontier where it has a foothold has been a top priority of the US-led coalition fighting the group in Iraq and Syria.
"There is news about many Daesh [Isil] members escaping and evacuating some areas of Manbij and booby-trapping them," Darwish said. "Our forces are now on the outskirts of the city. The campaign continues." (© Daily Telegraph London)