(Oslo) In 2023, the planet experienced the highest number of armed conflicts since 1946, even if, paradoxically, the number of states prey to these conflicts is decreasing, according to a Norwegian study published Monday.  

Last year, 59 conflicts were recorded worldwide, almost half of them (28) in Africa, according to the Oslo Peace Research Institute (Prio) report.  

But the number of countries in conflict has fallen, from 39 in 2022 to 34. That of combat deaths has also been halved (around 122,000), according to data collected by the Swedish University of Uppsala with international organizations and NGOs.

Driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the conflict in Gaza between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, this figure still remains the third highest since 1989.

“Violence in the world has never been higher since the end of the Cold War,” notes Siri Aas Rustad, researcher at Prio and lead author of the report which observes trends over the period 1946-2023.

“The figures suggest that the conflict picture has become increasingly complex, with a greater number of belligerents active within the same country,” she points out.  

According to the Prio, the increase in the number of conflicts is partly due to the Islamic State jihadist group which has spread across Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and the involvement of a growing number of non-governmental actors. states, such as the jihadists of Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam Wal-Muslimin (JNIM).

“This development makes it increasingly difficult for actors like humanitarian groups and civil society organizations to maneuver […] and improve people’s lives,” argues Rustad.

If the number of combat deaths fell last year, the aggregate number of the last three years is the highest in the last three decades.

After Africa, the regions of the world most affected by armed conflicts were Asia (17), the Middle East (10), Europe (3) and the Americas (1).