Poverty and Violent Conflict - Categories Of Violent Conflict, Violent Conflict And Human Development, Poverty In The Most Dangerous Places On Earth
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The populations of countries engaged in conflict or warfare almost always experience some degree of economic hardship. During World War II (1939–45) much of Europe was reduced to near starvation, and even the United States—which saw no military action on its own soil—imposed strict rationing of goods on its citizens. This is because during times of war financial resources that could be used to meet human needs are diverted instead to military efforts. For example, Figure 9.1 displays the great disparity between spending on health issues and spending on military concerns in Eritrea, Yemen, Burundi, Angola, and Ethiopia, all countries with low human development that were experiencing military conflict during 2003. However, poverty can also be used as a tool of war, especially in internal conflict situations. Economic oppression and the withholding of aid for development are frequently used as a form of violence against those perceived as enemies. Refugees of war or conflict who are displaced from their homes must live in camps with squalid conditions, with little hope of earning a living or returning home.
In Violent Conflict, Poverty, and Chronic Poverty (Chronic Poverty Research Centre, May 2001, http://www.chronicpoverty.org/pdfs/06Goodhand.pdf), Jonathan Goodhand estimated that between 1989 and 2001 more than four million people worldwide had been killed in regional and internal warfare, mostly in poor and low-income countries. According to the United Nations Development Program's (UNDP) Human Development Report 2005 (2005, http://hdr.undp.org/reports/global/2005/pdf/HDR05_complete.pdf), the overall number of violent conflicts decreased between 1991 and 2003, from fifty-one to twenty-nine, "but the share of those conflicts occurring in poor countries has increased."
Goodhand's estimate includes only those people directly killed in conflict, not those who died as an indirect result of warfare. The indirect casualties of war can greatly outnumber those killed in actual fighting. In 2006 a mortality survey that included both direct and indirect war fatalities was conducted by the International Rescue Committee in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country that had been in a state of conflict since 1998. The survey found that nearly four million people had died as a result the conflict and that most of the deaths were attributable to preventable disease and malnutrition. In the eastern part of the country only 2% of deaths were a direct result of armed violence. Displacement is another result of conflict. As of 2005 at least twenty-five million people globally had fled from their homes and countries because of warfare.
Violent conflict—especially drawn out over a number of years or decades—does not cause just a state of immediate chaos and death; it has long-term consequences for social, political, and economic development. For years after the conflict ends, a country might suffer the effects of war in the forms of damaged or nonexistent infrastructure, environmental degradation, an unbalanced population in terms of gender, a shortage of teachers and schools, war-related physical and psychological issues, widespread hunger, and other problems associated with poverty. Because education is interrupted during and in the aftermath of armed conflict, countries that have experienced such violence typically show diminished rates of adult literacy.