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The Challenge of Modern Armed Conflict

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

masses; however, it is now the modern armed conflicts that affect

communities and take civilian lives. Moreover, the measures and tools used

in traditional military-led cross-border wars to tally the dead under the

International Humanitarian Law mandates which are insufficient under

modern warfare.

Although tallies remain insufficient and unreliable, one thing has remained more of a constant guide for providing aid as NGOs: the count of those impacted by humanitarian aid. Of course, this depends on the possibility of accurately estimating the number of vulnerable people in a modern armed conflict who receive our aid.

But even as much aid that's being delivered by drop-offs or distributed at Internally Displaced Persons' camps, it is insufficient for an accurate count and hedges on being underestimated. Our mode of operation as MERCYPARTNERS is to align ourselves with the locals, not a Western organization.

The easiest way to do so is to locate refugees within America then use their

knowledge of their villages and native peoples as an entryway into their parts

of the nation in conflict.

Involving locals has continued to be an intrinsic part of MERCY PARTNERS' ability to lead effective change. Native evangelists orchestrate aid efforts through the local church. That way, the villagers will see the aid coming from their village and Jesus Christ, not Western NGOs. Providing the appropriate aid to all the masses, including those in the margins, is now obtainable with locals.

The empowered local knows the individual name of those displaced and

threatened by conflict. They know intimately their needs, making the change

effective. Furthermore, peacekeeping becomes more attainable and sustainable

with familiar faces to keep parties accountable.

Since late 2010, MERCY PARTNERS has provided prison ministry, art therapy, and spiritual counsel for soldiers and commercial sex workers. All of which has enabled local churches to hold medical clinics to combat Malaria, Cholera, respiratory infections, typhoid, yellow fever, and worms; and provides teacher training workshops, Lord's supper supplies, Bibles in local languages, youth conferences, transportation, and security for baptisms.

In addition, MERCY PARTNERS has established 8 churches, a primary school that hosts over 750 children from eighteen different tribes, 11 deepwater wells, 7,000 fed directly annually, 4,401 medical treatments, 2 graduates with Biblical certification. In total, there are 128 trained local church leaders.

MERCYPARTNERS provides emergency food, clothing, and sustainable resources, such as goats and safe water wells. 

Start making a lifesaving difference today:


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Thomas, Communications Director for Mercy Partners


Thomas Kilian III, as Communications Director, has personal relationships with our Global Partners having traveled to most of our mission points. He is degreed with a Bachelors of Science, with high honor, and is a candidate for Masters of Theology from NationsUniversity. He's an Ordained Minister and is the author of the book, Start being, Stop Doing (



  1. Ferdi calculations based on Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP / PRIO) data per 2018.

  2. Frontiers, Public Health, Amir Khorram-Manesh, Frederick M. Burkle, Krzysztof Goniewicz, Yohan Robinson, October 2021, Accessed March 1, 2022:

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