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Asian peace rankings take a dive

PHNOM PENH (UCAN): Asia has become a less peaceful place according to the 2018 Global Peace Index, with conditions in Cambodia and Myanmar deteriorating most in the region.
Published by the Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace, the  index ranks the safety and security of 163 countries, including the degree of militarisation and the impact of ongoing conflicts.
Myanmar sank 15 places to 122nd in the world rankings due to ongoing violence against ethnic minority Rohingya Muslims, while Cambodia slid 18 slots to 96th as a result of the suppression the main opposition political party by the prime minister, Hun Sen. 
The humanitarian crisis in Myanmar had a knock-on effect on neighbouring Bangladesh, ranked 93rd, which slid 10 places and saw the biggest decline in South Asia.
Despite improvements in political stability and curbing terrorism, Bangladesh’s relations with neighbouring countries declined, in part due to the influx of some 700,000 Rohingya refugees.
“The peacefulness of regions and sub-regions tend to rise and fall together, implying that attempts to resolve conflicts need to take a regional rather than a narrow national view,” the Global Peace Index report states.
The Asia-Pacific region saw a five per cent increase in its political terror score, which correlated with a decline in peace in the region and the cementing of more authoritarian regimes.
The Philippines, where there have been extrajudicial killings of thousands of drug suspects and a bloody southern battle with Islamic militants, fell one spot to 137.
In Cambodia, Defense Ministry spokesperson, Chhum Socheat, said his nation’s lower ranking was unfair given an absence of violent conflict.
Cambodian opposition leader, Kem Sokha, was arrested in September on contested treason allegations and his party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, was forcibly dissolved.
Meanwhile, Myanmar should have been ranked much lower on the list, according to Maung Zarni, an adviser at the European Centre for the Study of Extremism.
“Myanmar should be one of the bottom three, after Syria and Yemen,” he said, comparing persecution there to that in Nazi Germany during the 1930s.
Zarni said he had met with dozens of Rohingya women and children who fled to Bangladesh.
“Their trauma is no less than the trauma suffered by other genocide survivors,” he said. “They are scarred for life.”
Globally, the economic impact of violence was a whopping US$14.76 trillion ($115.85 trillion)—a rise of two per cent in the latest index.
At US$1,988 ($15,604) per person, the global economic impact was higher than at any other point in the past decade. 
Pakistan saw a slight improvement, but at 151st remains the least peaceful nation in the region, second only to North Korea, at 150th. Singapore, ranked eighth, and Japan, ninth, were the only Asian nations to crack the top 10.
India improved slightly, rising one spot to 136, as did Nepal (84), Sri Lanka (67) and Bhutan (19). China and Thailand, meanwhile, were considered medium countries in terms of peacefulness at 112 and 113 respectively.

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