With the world now opened up to anyone with a bit of money in their pocket and a passion for exploring the globe’s furthest and most dramatic reaches through adventure holidays and the like, there are still places where it’s advised not to stray too far from the beaten track.
There are in fact 33 countries or regions officially declared as ongoing conflict zones, and whilst Iraq, Afghanistan, and more recently Georgia, might be top of the list when it comes to notoriety, there are many others that don’t get the same level of attention, due in part to a lack of Western involvement. Nevertheless they exist and should play a bearing on the holiday plans of anybody with the sense of adventure to seek out the planet’s furthest frontiers. Below are just some of the regions currently in turmoil.
Unfortunately, Africa is a continent blighted by various conflicts. These include:
Darfur: Darfur dies as the world looks on. The western region of the Sudan is currently in civil war, with the government backed Janjaweed decimating a rebel uprising brought on by decades of neglect and drought. As refugees have spilled into neighbouring Chad, so too has the violence, with the Janjaweed staging attacks and incursions on that soil. The death toll is estimated at between 200,000 and 400,000.
Ivory Coast: The Ivory Coast saw an armed rebellion in 2002 that divided the country in half. The war may have ended but the rift between the government-controlled south and the rebel-controlled north remains. There is now a UN-maintained buffer zone in place to keep the two factions apart.
Democratic Republic of Congo: Civil war erupted in 1996, when America and France withdrew their longheld support for the country’s then dictator. This followed a rebel uprising that quickly turned to a conflict over the the D.R.C’s considerable mineral resources and involved a number of neighbouring countries. Even though a peace deal was reached in 2003, fighting has continued in the Eastern provinces with an estimated 5 million dead since the war’s inception.
Elsewhere in the world there is:
Kashmir: A long-running territorial dispute between India and Pakistan over ownership of the Kashmir region, which came with the break-up of British rule and the partition of India in 1947. Wars have broken out intermittently between the two countries in the years following the dissolution, with a resolution satisfactory to both sides yet to be reached.
Sri Lanka: The Sri-Lankan civil war has waged since 1983. It arises from a claim for an independent state made by a militant separatist group commonly known as the Tamil Tigers. They want Northern and Eastern parts of the island to be renamed Tamil Eelam and allowed to govern itself. The ongoing war has seen talks and ceasefires, but no resolution. The death toll has been reported at anything from 70,000 to 338,000.
Mexico: Mexico has been engaged in an internal war ever since 1989. It remains largely unreported because of its nature. In a twist upon the usual reasons for civil war, which are waged over territory with an eye to ultimate rule, this one is in fact between rival drug cartels seeking control of what is the main supply route between Columbia and the United States. These cartels effectively run certain states within the country. In 2006 the Mexican government became involved and in a bid to end the violence mobilised the army to effectively smash the drug cartels’ hold. It is now a war that rages between the government and the drugs gangs, with the cartels reportedly matching the armed forces when it comes to firepower. Because of the transient nature of this conflict, there is no estimate on deaths since its beginning, although a figure of 4152 was released in 2008 as an official toll since the government became involved.
Thailand: South Thailand has been home to separatist attacks for decades, but this came to a head in 2005 when a mounting escalation saw emergency powers being brought in by Thailand’s Prime Minister to combat it. This saw the army’s power increased in 2006 to further stem the insurgency, which resulted in a coup d’état and a military junta taking control of the country. This has failed to put an end to the attacks being carried out by the groups wanting independence from the rest of Thailand. There has reported to have been more than 2,500 killed during the conflict.
So there you have just a few of the conflicts presently listed as ongoing across the world.
It has to be said that the majority of destinations are safe, but there’s no harm in checking out official Foreign Office recommendations when travelling to certain areas of the world, especially when planning a holiday away from the main tourist drag.