Study: UN sees pandemic and climate as factors in homicides

UN sees pandemic and climate as factors in homicides

According to a UN study, climate change also increases the risk of homicide. photo

© Aguilar Abecassis/dpa

The number of victims due to intentional killing has increased – and at least one of the reasons that the UN identifies for this will become even more relevant in the future.

The global number of intentional killings is, according to one UN study increased to 458,000 people in the second year of the corona pandemic. The 2021 figure was the highest in two decades, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna reported. There is not yet sufficient data for 2022 and 2023.

From the perspective of UNDOC experts, the increase during the pandemic is linked to the negative economic impact of the pandemic. Gang crime and violence in the crisis state of Myanmar also contributed to the increased number of victims. However, the trends varied regionally. In Western Europe, the number of victims increased in 2020, primarily due to increasing homicide cases in Germany, and decreased again in the following year. An increase was observed in some African countries in 2021.

In the future, climate change could contribute to more deadly violence, particularly in Africa and the Americas, due to more frequent hot days and dwindling resources, according to UNODC experts. “We’re already seeing this in Africa,” said UNODC chief analyst Angela Me, pointing to drought- and water-related violence in West Africa.

Victims of armed conflict are not included

The UN statistics also include victims of terrorism and unlawful state violence. Victims of armed conflicts are not included. In 2021, almost four times as many people died from intentional killings as from conflict.

According to UNDOC, the risk of becoming a victim of a homicide is highest in the Americas at 15 per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Africa with a factor of 12.7. In Europe the value is only 2.2.

In 2021, a total of 81 percent of those killed were male. In regions with relatively low crime, such as Europe, the proportion of female victims is higher because relationship crimes and domestic violence play a relatively larger role. In 2021, only seven European countries worldwide reported more female than male victims: Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Latvia, Norway and Iceland.


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