The Challenge of Modern Armed Conflict

Updated: Mar 9

Lynseey Addario TIGRAY CRISIS
Photo Credit: Lynsey Addario. • Ten-year-old wounded when she and other children were playing near unexploded ordnance in her village of Dembela, Tigray - Ethiopia

As the world observes the most recent conflict between Russia and Ukraine, counting the number of civilian casualties has been a challenge.

Even though modern technology has made significant advancements for the battlefield, current conflicts have emphasized the increased need for data on civilian casualties.

While there is a need for international involvement in future armed conflicts, the risks and barriers to obtaining such data should be recognized. Internal armed conflicts need to be distinguished from international armed conflicts by the parties involved rather than by the territorial scope of the conflict. In internal conflicts, the primary party is always the government side.

Though international armed conflicts, such as the one between Russia and Ukraine, are violent, we should consider that the number of deaths in comparison to the total population is essential when measuring the amount of violence. If a grade was given to nations with the worst situation, in regards to sustained violence in our modern world (based on three major types of sustainable competitiveness factors), here is the list we would be given:

Score from 73-100; the lowest reflects the better situation (1):

Somalia 100

Nigeria 100

Sudan 99

India 95

Lybia 94

South Sudan 93

Egypt 76

DRC 76

Uganda 74

Algeria 73

Ethiopia 64 (growing rapidly)

As of the publishing time of this article, the world is counting the deaths

prevalent in Ukraine, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Sudan, and South Sudan, as new

internal conflicts have emerged in more recent years.

Of course, there is a deficiency of adequate counting due to organizational, political, or strategic reasons, as well as the difficulties of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to access the conflict scene, resulting in under-reported, unreliable, or no-reported data.

When assessing 66 selected articles for scientific evidence using the Health Evidence Quality Assessment Tool, four researchers in 2021 concluded there is an increasing number of public health emergencies (2). Furthermore, there is a growing lack of vital elements of life such as water and food, emerging where armed conflicts seem inevitable.

Once, it was the military-led cross-border traditional wars that affected the