Among all the active conflicts in the world, the one in Mexico, in the context of the wars unleashed by drug cartels, is the most violent for civilians, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).
“Mexico is the most dangerous country for civilians: ACLED records more than 5 thousand incidents of violence directly targeting civilians across the country in the last 12 months (…) Many civilian communities in Mexico face threats even greater than those in the contexts of the most violent conflicts,” it states.
ACLED reaches this conclusion based on the analysis of the four metrics (death rate, danger to the civilian population, geographic extension and fragmentation of the armed groups involved) that make up the index designed to measure the levels of violence registered in the conflicts in force in the planet (Conflict Index).
The analysis of the data collected in real time in 240 countries and territories was presented this Tuesday during an event held in virtual format with the participation of ACLED president, Clionadh Raleigh, and the head of the project, Katayoun Kishi.
The data covers the period from July 2022 to July 2023 and is comprised of 139,000 events of political violence, with a conservative estimate of more than 147,000 fatalities.
The study points out that, during this period, “Ukraine was the deadliest; Myanmar the most fragmented among armed groups; Mexico the most dangerous for civilians; and Palestine the most geographically dispersed”.
From the list of the 50 countries and territories experiencing the most extreme, high or turbulent levels of conflict, which together account for 97% of all incidents recorded during the study period, Mexico appears on the third rung behind Myanmar and Syria, which occupy the two worst positions. Mexico is classified as an “extremely” dangerous country.
Behind Mexico comes Ukraine, with an average of more than 950 incidents of political violence per week, accounting for 36% of all incidents of political violence in the past year. The nation at war with Russia accounts for more than 36,000 fatalities in the last year.
The rest of the “top ten of violence” is made up of Nigeria, Brazil, Yemen, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia.
“The way we arrive at these results is by taking into consideration all the indicators in a holistic manner, for example, Mexico ranks third overall, but is number one in violence and danger to the civilian population, sixth in terms of fragmentation and ranks 18th in how much the conflict has been geographically dispersed, which is why it appears behind Syria and Myanmar,” explains Katayoun Kishi.
The paper argues that every conflict is different, ranging from civil wars and insurgencies to those caused by rivalry between drug cartels. However, most of the countries that carry the “extreme conflict” label share key characteristics, such as having the highest number of violent events and fatalities without being at war.
ACLED argues that over the past six years Mexico has not made progress and that the level of conflict has consistently remained on the “extreme” scale between 2018 and mid-2023.