During the 1990s, more than 2 million children died as a result of armed conflicts. They were often deliberately targeted and murdered. More than three times that number were permanently disabled or seriously injured. Every minute, two people are killed in conflicts around the world. What is the fighting about? Most of the time, people die for money and power, only sometimes they cry for freedom.

In Somalia several rival warlords are battling for power as there has baeen no central government despite attempts to set up transitional authorities. The fighting started when Siad Barre was toppled from power. About 1 million people have died so far and there is no end to the fighting. It’s outrageous.

In Uganda the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels are fighting the army because the LRA say they want to rule Uganda according to the Biblical Ten Commandments. Of course they routinely commit atrocities – mutilating victims and kidnapping children to become fighters or sex slaves. Horrible war for religion and the number of victims is unknown; some 1 million have fled their homes.

I think that the worst conflicts are the long ones, like the one in Afghanistan that has had over 20 years of civil war. When the Taliban refused to hand over Osama Bin Laden in 2001 they were driven from power by US-led forces. Now the Taliban are re-emerging as a fighting force. The ousted Taliban are the most prominent of the militants fighting American and Afghan forces trying to extend the writ of US-backed authorities in Kabul. Official version is that there are only clashes in the south and east, but there have been incidents of violence in the capital, too of course. Who would want to believe only the official info.

When I think about Maoist rebels in Nepal who have been fighting Nepal’s security forces since 1996 I agree with Tomek. The rebels want to establish a communist republic in the Himalayan kingdom, which is one of the world’s poorest countries. It sounds stupid and over 9,000 people have died in the conflict. Naturally, the army is better equipped but mountainous terrain favours the rebels. Observers see little prospect of either side winning the war soon but neither the rebels not the forces think of signing treaty. Innocent people are dying.

What about Iraq? The US-led coalition has occupied Iraq and deposed Saddam Hussein. Though many Iraqis welcome the fall of the former dictator, the coalition has failed to bring security to the country and win over the population. The coalition faces a number of serious armed challenges from insurgents, a well-armed Shia militia and, officials say, radical Islamic fighters from abroad.
As we remember the invasion began on 20 March 2003 and was completed in less than four weeks but the violence has continued though at varying intensity. There is no official figure for the number of Iraqis killed in the war and the occupation. One estimate puts the figure at between 9,000 and 10,000. More than 700 US soldiers have also died. UK forces and other coalition members have lost more than 100 soldiers including Polish ones.

It reminds me of Chechnya’s separatists, pushing for independence from Russia, and fighting Russian forces since the early 1990s. There are said to be 80,000 Russian troops in Chechnya. Muslim volunteers from overseas are known to have travelled to Chechnya to fight for the separatists.
It is said, that the roots of Chechen separatism go back nearly two centuries, but the present conflict arose when Chechnya declared independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The separatist fighters want independence, or at least self-rule, and have vowed to continue fighting until Russian forces leave. The war has cost tens of thousands of lives. Some estimates put Russian losses in the past decade at 25,000. Russian officials have said 14,000 Chechen fighters were killed between 1999 and the end of 2002. Can you imagine living in state of war for so long?

What about the Georgian ethnicity that is at the heart of Abkhaz and South Ossetian separatism that killed ten thousand people before the resumption of Georgian control over Ajaria was achieved without bloodshed in May 2004. It is now very clear that the ethnic Abkhaz people have a strong affinity with North Caucasian nationalities in Russia. South Ossetians aspire to unification with the neighbouring Russian republic of North Ossetia. What is terrifying is that the conflict over Ajaria was largely about money and power.

The same happened in the south of Sudan, Christians and animists opposed plans to expand Islamic Sharia law to the areas where they lived. They want the freedom of faith. In Darfur, the rebels accused the Arab-dominated government of ignoring the region and now accuse the government and the Janjaweed of “ethnic cleansing” against black African residents. As the government and southern rebels signed a peace agreement, a new rebellion had broken out in the western region of Darfur. There, the government is accused of backing the Arab Janjaweed militia.

Did you know that in the Philippines the New People’s Army – the military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – has been fighting the Philippines government for more than 30 years? The NPA wants to overthrow the Philippines government. (It numbers only about 9,000 fighters). Thirty years and they don’t know when to stop. Cruel fighting kills around one hundred people a year.

Have you heard about Colombian problem of kidnapping? Columbia is in a constant state of civil war. The leadership of the FARC, guerilla army, dreams about bringing about a Marxist state in Colombia and is in conflict with right-wing paramilitary umbrella organization known as the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia ant the state forces. The majority of kidnappings are carried out by the biggest left-wing guerrilla group but criminal gangs are also responsible for abductions. Ransom money from hostage-taking is a lucrative source of revenue for the guerrilla groups, although some kidnappings are politically motivated. The Farc has tried to use hostages as bargaining counters in an effort to persuade the Colombian authorities to release their jailed comrades. More people are kidnapped in Colombia than anywhere else in the world, with more than 2,000 abductions every year. It represents two-thirds of all the world’s kidnappings. When we think about it life in Poland is quiet and peaceful.

Improve your vocabulary!

armed – zbrojny
conflict – konflikt
deliberately – rozważnie, ostrożnie
target – cel, wybierać na cel
murder – mordować, morderstwo
warlord – gubernator wojskowy
rival – rywal
topple – obalać
rebel – buntownik, buntować się
Biblical Ten Commandments – Biblijne Dziesięć Przykazań
ousted – wyrzucił, przegnał
prominent – wybitny, ważny
establish – założyć, ustanowić, ustalićmilitia – milicja
invasion – inwazja
violence – przemoc
varying – różny
intensity – natężenie, intensywność
soldier – żółnierz
it reminds me of – to przypomina mi
independence – niepodległość
root – korzeń
declare – oświadczać, ogłaszać
losses – straty
resumption – wznowienie
rebellion – rebelia, bunt, powstanie
kidnapping – uprowadzenie, porwanie