War Forgotten By All But The Victims
And Still They Bleed And Die
“If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?” Shylock speaking to Salerio in Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice.”
Shylock, the money lender, was speaking of the revenge he sought for the evils perpetrated against him for being a Jew but the words could easily come from today’s victims of the civil war in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia, the innocents harmed by the Houthi rebels in Yemen, the sufferers of Al-Shabaab in Somalia and victims of any of the other dozens of ongoing conflicts around the world.
Much of the world is focused on the atrocities of the Russian invasion of Ukraine but others around the world also are suffering and like the victims in Ukraine, they also bleed and feel the searing pain of the bullets while their orphans, wives, brothers and sisters also mourn their losses. These other largely unreported wars do not get much publicity because they don’t jeopardize oil prices, they don’t effect Wall Street or they are largely fought by people of color against people of color.
The Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP), a data collection program on organized violence, based at Uppsala University in Sweden, reports 57 ongoing wars from Ukraine to the insurgency in Cabo Delgado in Mozambique and Tanzania and more. The UCDP defines seven conflicts as major wars with at least 10,000 direct, violent deaths per year in battles in a current or past calendar year. Many conflicts have had hundreds of thousands of victims in years before 2021 and 2022.
The conflicts defined as major wars are being waged in Syria, Darfur, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Yemen, Ukraine and Tigray.
Syria is still roiled amid civil war that broke out 11 years ago after President Bashar al-Assad ordered a brutal, deadly crackdown on public protests. The UCDP reports 500,000 to 600,000 people have died in the civil war, including 5,828 in 2021 and 1,101 this year. Half of Syrian’s population has been displaced, large parts of the country have been destroyed, and reconstruction will cost tens of billions of dollars.
Most recently, al-Assad has been trying to rebuild relationships in the Arab world. He was in the United Arab Emirates on Friday, his first visit to an Arab country since Syria’s civil war erupted in 2011. Assad supports the Russian invasion as Russian President Vladimir V. Putin is al-Assad’s main ally.
The war has settled into a stalemate and while most of the country is nominally back under al-Assad’s control, a crushing economic crisis has hobbled reconstruction efforts, impoverished the population and left many facing starvation.
In Darfur in western Sudan, violence against largely ethnic African communities have surged, with more than 420,000 people forced to flee their homes in 2021, up from 54,000 a year earlier, according to the United Nations humanitarian affairs office in Sudan.
The region suffered through two decades of genocidal violence that began in 2003 and led to the deaths of more than 300,000 people. Longtime ruler, Omar Hassan al-Bashir was ousted inn 2019, but the violence has not abated.The UCDP reported 1,364 deaths in 2021 and 177 so far this year.
Most recently, Lt. Gen Mohamed Hamdan represented Sudan in Moscow on the first day of the war in Ukraine, seeking aid from the Russian government. In the 2000s, Hamdan was commander of the Arab militia known as the Janjaweed, which perpetrated some of the worst attacks against ethnic African communities. Hamdan is now the second most powerful leader in Sudan.
Wars in Afghanistan has taken as many as 2 million lives since the Russian led invasion in 1979 and through the U.S. involvement which began in 2001 and continued until America withdrew its forces last August. In the final year of U.S. involvement 42,000 died in the conflict and there were 593 reported deaths this year.
The internal conflict in Myanmar has surged and abated and then surged ever since the former nation of Burma gained independence from England in 1948. Most recent bloodshed involved the government’s genocide of the minority, Islamic Rohingya people, which began in 2017 and a military coup in 2021, which continued the Rohingya persecution. The UCDP reports the cumulative death toll in Myanamar at 150,000 to 210,000, with 2,440 to 11,114 dead in 2021 and 4,360 in 2022.
The crisis in Yemen began with the 2011–12 revolution against long time leader, President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The new government worked to defeat a protracted insurgency from Al-Qadea and Houthi militants. In September 2014, the Houthi insurgency transformed into a full-blown civil war. In 2015, a Saudi-led coalition began bombing the Houthi, resulting in a declaration of a “humanitarian disaster.” The war has killed 377,000, including 26,573 to 31,048 in 2021 and between 3,701 and 5,099 this year.
Russian has been at war with the Ukraine since the February 2014 “Revolution of Dignity” also known as the “Maidan Revolution” when protesters overthrew the government and ousted the pro-Russian, President Viktor Yanukovych. Pro-Russian separatists then sought to take over Crimea and parts of the Donbas, both internationally recognized as parts of Ukraine. Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and has been fighting in Donbas since 2014, leading to the onset of the Russian invasion in February. The attacks from 2014 to 2022, led to more than 13,000 casualties with 149 in 2021 and 12,500 to 15,500 this year, according to the latest estimates.
The Tigray civil war, involving various factions, began on Nov. 3, 2020, in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia and since it began, violence has claimed upwards of as many as 100,000 lives, including as many as 19,200 in 2021 and 420 this year so far. War rape is a “daily” occurrence, with girls as young as 8, and women as old as 72, raped, often in front of their families. One of the most powerful groups, the repressive, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), has dominated Ethiopian politics for 27 years. Mass extrajudicial killings of civilians were reported in several cities from November and December 2020 and in refugee camps.
A second level of war involves conflicts which have caused at least 1,000 and fewer than 10,000 direct, violent deaths in a current or past calendar year. They include the Somali civil war; ethnic violence in South Sudan; Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad; the Iraq conflict involving the Islamic State insurgency in Iraq; Colombian conflict; Ituri conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo; Mexican drug war; insurgency in the Maghreb, Africa, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Libya, Mali, Niger, Tunisia, Togo, Benin and Ivory Coast; Kivu conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi; Communal conflicts in Nigeria; Mali War, Mali; Nigerian bandit conflict, Nigeria; Central African Republic Civil War, Africa; Allied Democratic Forces insurgency in Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda; Insurgency in Cabo Delgado, Africa, Mozambique and Tanzania; and the Oromo conflict, Africa, Ethiopia
Minor conflicts with 100 to 999 combat-related deaths in the current or past year include: Indo-Pakistani Wars, insurgency in Kashmir; Moro conflict, Philippines; Papua conflict, Oceania and Indonesia; Kurdish–Turkish conflict in Turkey, Iraq and Syria; Insurgency in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan; Communist rebellion in the Philippines; Insurgency in Northeast India; Philippine drug war; Libyan crisis; Israeli–Palestinian conflict in Israel, Palestine and Lebanon; Insurgency in Balochistan, Pakistan; Naxalite–Maoist insurgency in India; Sudanese conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, Sudan; Anglophone Crisis, Cameroon; insurgency in Egypt and Africa; Benishangul-Gumuz conflict in Ethiopia; conflict in the Niger Delta, Nigeria, Cameroon; Bangladesh drug war; Afar–Somali clashes, Ethiopia; and insurgency in Northern Chad.
Conflicts that have caused fewer than 100 direct, violent deaths in a current or past calendar year but many more in prior years, include: Korean conflict; North Korea and South Korea; Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency, Democratic Republic of Congo; internal conflict in Peru; Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Artsakh; Cabinda War, Angola; Kurdish separatism in Iran; Western Sahara conflict in Morocco and the Saharawi Republic; South Thailand insurgency; Sinai insurgency in Egypt; Casamance conflict in Senegal; Katanga insurgency in the Democratic Republic of Congo; Chiapas conflict in Mexico; ISIL insurgency in Tunisia; and insurgency in Paraguay.