28 May 2019: Twenty years after the United Nations officially added the protection of civilians in armed conflict to the Security Council agenda, noncombatants continue to be targeted at alarming rates (UN OCHA, 2019). While overall reported fatalities from events directly targeting civilians declined over the past year, conflict continues to exact a devastating toll on civilian populations, with tens of thousands reportedly killed in 2018 alone. ACLED has already recorded over 8,000 reported fatalities stemming from anti-civilian violence so far this year – and in some regions, civilian targeting is on the rise (ACLED, 2019).

The data are clear: across ACLED’s areas of coverage, civilians remain at serious risk.

Key Data Points:

  • ACLED has recorded nearly 7,700 violent events targeting civilians from 1 January 2019 to 18 May 2019, resulting in over 8,200 reported fatalities.
  • Political militias and unidentified armed groups are responsible for the highest proportion of civilian targeting in 2019, at nearly one-third of all events. State forces are responsible for over a quarter of all civilian targeting.
    • The chief perpetrators vary by region: political militias and unidentified agents commit the most anti-civilian violence in Africa and Europe; state forces in the Middle East and Southeast Asia; and rioters or mobs in South Asia.











High-Risk Areas:

  • Africa has both the highest levels of civilian targeting and the highest number of reported civilian fatalities from direct targeting so far this year according to ACLED data, followed by the Middle East and South Asia.
  • Countries with the highest number of civilian targeting events in 2019 (approximate):
    1. India – 1,385 events
    2. Syria – 1,160 events
    3. Yemen – 500 events
    4. Philippines – 345 events
    5. Nigeria – 340 events
  • Countries with the most reported fatalities from civilian targeting in 2019 (approximate):
    1. Syria – 1,180 reported fatalities
    2. Nigeria – 1,175 reported fatalities
    3. Burkina Faso – 670 reported fatalities
    4. Yemen – 555 reported fatalities
    5. Mali  – 490 reported fatalities

A US-based 501c3 established in 2014, ACLED is the highest quality, most widely used, real-time data and analysis source on political violence and protest around the world.

If you would like to use ACLED analysis or visuals, please review our Terms of Use and Attribution Policy.


For press inquiries or interview requests, please contact:

Sam Jones, Communications Manager



Download a PDF of this fact sheet here.


© 2019 Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED). All rights reserved.

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Fact Sheet: Civilians in Conflict
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Sam Jones
Sam Jones
Sam is the ACLED Communications Manager. He oversees public outreach and works to ensure ACLED data inform research, discourse, and policymaking on political violence and protest around the world. He earned his BA in Political Theory from Franklin & Marshall College and his MA in Ethics, Peace, and Human Rights from American University's School of International Service. Sam's research has centered on political violence and protest movements, and he previously worked to document human rights violations in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Contact him at: communications@acleddata.com
Melissa Pavlik
Melissa Pavlik
Melissa Pavlik is a Research Analyst at ACLED studying overarching trends of armed conflict across and within ACLED’s regions of study. She has degrees in Statistics and Political Science from the University of Chicago, and is currently studying in the War Studies Department at King’s College London. Her research focus include violent non-state actors and the intersection between the international political economy and political violence.
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