More nations facing historically high levels of terrorism, study finds

Updated: 

More countries are dealing with historically high levels of terrorism than ever before, according to a major new study.

Analysts calculated that deaths from terrorism globally jumped from just over 11,000 in 2007 to more than 29,000 in 2015, peaking at 32,765 in 2014.

The total number of incidents increased by 326% over the same time period, from approximately 2,800 attacks in 2007 to just over 12,000 in 2015.

The most notable increases in the impact have been seen in highly economically developed countries, the latest edition of the Global Peace Index found.

It said deaths from terrorism in countries that are in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) rose by more than 900% between 2007 and 2016.

The largest increases occurred in Turkey, France, the US and Belgium, according to the analysis.

It does not include the Manchester bombing last week, in which 22 people were killed in the worst terrorist atrocity in Britain since the July 7 attacks in London in 2005.

The paper said the impact of terrorism is not evenly distributed around the world, with five countries - Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria and Yemen - recording more than 21,000 deaths between them in 2015.

Overall, the assessment concluded the world has become a more peaceful place in 2017, logging a 0.28% improvement in the global score.

Ninety-three countries scored higher levels of peace while 68 deteriorated.

The UK is ranked 41st out of 163 nations in the latest index - up six places compared to the previous year.

The study said: "The Brexit vote in the UK revealed high levels of polarisation within the society, which has resulted in political uncertainty; however, the political scene was relatively stable after the new prime minister was installed.

"A continued improvement in the UK's overall score is driven by international conflict indicators, following the country's withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014."

Iceland maintained its position as the world's most peaceful country, a title it has held since 2008, while New Zealand and Portugal replaced Denmark and Austria in second and third position.

Syria was ranked the least peaceful country, with Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan and Yemen completing the bottom five.

The index - compiled by think tank the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) - uses 23 indicators to gauge ongoing domestic and international conflict, safety and security in society, and the degree of militarisation in countries and territories.

Steve Killelea, founder and executive chairman of the IEP, said: "Although this year's uptick is reassuring, the world is still mired with conflict in the Middle East, political turmoil in the US, refugee flows and terrorism in Europe.

"When combined with the increasing level of peace inequality, whereby the least peaceful countries are moving further apart from the most peaceful, the resulting scenario is one in which further improvements in peace are not guaranteed."