The world's 10 worst conflicts
According to the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research (HIIK), last year saw some 400 conflicts worldwide, 20 of them wars. DW takes a look at 10 of the more dangerous conflicts.
No peace in sight
Whether due to religious fanaticism, valuable raw materials or a sheer desire for power, the reasons for conflict have been the same for thousands of years. The situation was no different in 2013 either. The Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research (HIIK) has documented last year's many conflicts in its "Conflict Barometer 2013."
Democratic Republic of Congo
In Kivu last year the army fought regularly against the M23 rebel group. After peace negotiations with the government, the fighters then split into different groups. At the end of 2013 the DRC government announced it had conquered the rebels. The M23 has said that from now on it will seek to work politically.
In Mali, Islamist fighters are trying to seize power. In 2012, large parts of the north of the country came under their control. As a result, France ended up helping the Malian government with troops and firepower (above), and air and ground attacks pushed the Islamists back. UN peacekeepers are now responsible for keeping order, but attacks and suicide bombings continue.
Islamist terror group Boko Haram wants to introduce Sharia law in Nigeria. In order to achieve that goal, the group continues to attack Christians and moderate Muslims. In the picture, Christian relatives of victims dig graves after an attack. Nigeria is the scene of another battle too: Christian farmers are fighting with Muslim cattle grazers over pasture land.
For over 10 years various African ethnic groups have been fighting in the Darfur region of Sudan against government forces and allied fighters. In the conflict, water and pasture lands are at stake. Hundreds of thousands of people have already died in the fighting and millions have been forced to flee their homes.
Fighting continues in Afghanistan after NATO passed on control of security to local forces. The Taliban and other Islamic militants continue to wage war on the authorities using suicide attacks and booby-traps. Particularly the border regions are prone to violence. According to the UN, more than 2,500 civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2013.
Drugs, human trafficking, blackmail and smuggling: This is how cartels in Mexico earn their money. In order to protect their income streams, cartels battle against each other and the government. Skirmishes occur almost every week. As a reaction, hundreds of vigilante groups have now formed across the country. Last year some 17,000 people were killed in Mexico, according to government figures.
In the fourth year of the civil war in Syria, chaos rules supreme. The country is split between government troops belonging to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, moderate opposition groups, Islamists, vigilantes and criminal gangs. More than 100,000 people have lost their lives in the conflict, some nine million have fled their homes. The conflict threatens to spill into neighboring countries.
For over 40 years the Moro people in the south of the Philippines have been fighting for their independence. After a period of relative calm, conflict restarted in 2013, as the rebel group MNLF announced the independence of islands in the south of the country. Fighters attempting to take over the city Zamboanga were driven back by army troops. Over 120,000 people were forced to flee the fighting.
The conflict between al-Shabab fighters and government forces in Somalia has been going on for eight years. With the help of UN and African Union troops, authorities have managed to keep the Islamists at bay. Still, al-Shabab fighters control major parts of the south of the country. Al-Shabab was responsible for a number of bomb attacks in the capital Mogadishu in 2013.
Three years after its creation, South Sudan remains a country dominated by conflict and where two wars are raging. Fighters loyal to the country's vice president are fighting with presidential forces. The latter are also fighting on another front. In neighboring Sudan, South Sudanese troops are supporting autonomy efforts from two oil-rich provinces.