War and Conflict


What is the incidence of conflict in Africa?

Since the end of World War II (1939–45), there have been at least 56 separate, identifiable conflicts in Africa, with about a dozen of them ongoing in 2005. The continent seemed to be in a state of turmoil, with conflicts ranging from regional skirmishes between warlords to civil war. The unimaginable horrors of the Rwandan genocide (1994), the decades-old civil unrest and ethnic cleansing in Sudan, and longstanding rebel violence in Uganda made news the world over. The war-ravaged image of Africa caused many observers to wonder if the continent was unusually prone to civil war. In a study published by the World Bank, researchers concluded in 2000 that “Africa has had a similar incidence of civil conflict to that of other developing regions, and that, with minor exceptions, its conflicts are consistent with the global pattern.” The authors of that report acknowledged that the rising trend of conflict in Africa was due to its “atypically poor economic performance.” While many could see only Africa as war-torn, others pointed to the fact that most of Africa’s nations were peaceful, and that the trouble spots gave the international community an overstated impression of despair on the continent.


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