Malawi ranked third most peaceful country in Africa - Index

Nearly a billion people facing high exposure to climate change effects, Global Peace Index finds

Global Peace Index published on June 12 ranked Iceland as the world's most peaceful country for the 11th year in a row.

The effects of climate change can create a "tipping point", exacerbating tensions until a breaking point is reached, particularly in countries that are already struggling, said Killelea.

The most peaceful country in the world, according to the latest edition of the GPI, which measures the performance of countries from March 2018 to March 2019, was Iceland followed closely by New Zealand.

"At the top of the index you have a number of countries which have high levels of positive peace, they have the institutional structures to help maintain peaceful societies".

It is home to four of the ten least peaceful countries in the world, with no country from the region ranked higher than 30th on the GPI. South Sudan, Yemen, and Iraq comprise the remaining five least peaceful countries.

The results this year show that the average level of global peacefulness improved very slightly in the 2019 GPI.

It is the first time in five years that the index notes an increase in peacefulness as the average country score improved by 0.09%, with 86 countries improving, and 76 regressing.

The Global Peace Index, compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace, a think tank in NY, surveyed 163 countries worldwide to determine their level of peacefulness based on internal and external conflicts, violent crime, homicide rates, political instability and the import and export of weapons.

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For the first time, climate change received a dedicated section in the report, which is the largest of its kind.

IEP executive chairman Steve Killelea told the Thomson Reuters Foundation: "We can actually get a much better idea of which countries are most at risk, what are the types of risk and what would be the level of impact before it leads to a break or an implosion within the country".

Almost a billion people live in areas of high climate hazard and about 40% of them are in countries already struggling with conflict, according to the IEP.

The GPI report said the Middle East and North Africa region had a strong finish to the year due the military defeat of ISIL.

In both of these regions, the number of combat deaths in conflicts declined, owing to the de-escalation in Ukraine and Syria.

The region experienced a reduction in population displacement, political terror, deaths from internal and external armed conflicts, terrorism, military spending and armed services personnel - all which contributed to the region's improvement. Russian Federation and Eurasia, Asia-Pacific, and MENA recorded improvements across all three GPI domains.

"While the conflicts that have dominated in the last 10 years, such as those in Iraq and Syria, have begun to diminish, others have intensified in Yemen, Turkey and Nicaragua", he said.

"However, despite improvement, the world remains considerably less peaceful now than a decade ago, with the average level of peacefulness deteriorating by almost four per cent since 2008", the report claimed.

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