Global homicide rate rises for first time in 10 years

an estimated 385,000 people were killed in homicides across the world in 2016, which is an increase of 8,000 from 2015

(Photo: GraphicsBuzz)
(Photo: GraphicsBuzz)

The global homicide rate increased last year, for the first time in over a decade, with marked rises in non-conflict areas such as Venezuela, a study has shown.

The Small Arms Survey report, which was published on Thursday, showed that an estimated 385,000 people were killed in homicides across the world in 2016, which is an increase of 8,000 from 2015.

Despite this estimate, the report showed that the overall number of violent deaths decreased, primarily as a result of fewer individuals being killed in wars in 2016 than the previous year.

Of the five countries with the highest violent death rates, these being Syria, El Salvador, Afghanistan, Honduras and Venezuela, only two had armed conflicts in 2016.

Researchers noted that while the increase in the homicide rate “does not necessarily indicate a new trend… it signals growing insecurity in non-conflict areas.”

Taking into account population rises, 2016 had a global homicide rate per 100,000 of 5.15, which is 0.04 points more than in 2015.

“As the uptick in homicides affects far more people’s perceptions of local security than does the drop in conflict deaths, however, the overall decrease in violent deaths is unlikely to lead to an increased sense of safety at the global scale,” said researchers.

Of the 23 countries with a violent death rate of more than 20 people per 100,000, 14 had not been involved in wars. These include: Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Brazil and South Africa.

According to the report, such countries “crime claimed, in proportion to their populations, as many victims as some high-intensity conflicts.”

The number of people killed as a direct result of armed conflict fell from the 2014 peak of 143,000 to 119,000 in 2015 and 99,000 in 2016.

The authors of the report, Claire McEvoy and Gergely Hideg said that more than a million lives could be saved by 2030 if the trend continued, as the overall rate of violent deaths fell from 7.73 per 100,000 population to 7.50 between 2015 and 2016.

“The annual number of violent deaths is likely to increase to approximately 610,000 by 2030, primarily due to population growth,” they wrote.

“Yet if states were able to replicate the results of the countries that have been most successful at preventing and controlling violence in their respective world regions, that number could drop to about 408,000, meaning that around 1.35 million lives could be saved between 2017 and 2030.”

The Small Arms survey’s report, Global Violent Deaths 2017, was produced with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. It is funded by several governments and its past work has been supported by many, including UN agencies.  

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