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Philippines drugs violence makes it unsafe

President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of a “war on drugs” has made the Philippines one of the most dangerous places in the world for civilian-targeted violence.

A report by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (Acled) identifies India as the most dangerous country, with 1,385 violent events that targeted civilians. Second place is Syria with 1,160, followed by Yemen with 500, and the Philippines with 345. It supports comments made recently by Michelle Bachelet, UN high commissioner for human rights, who voiced concerns over ongoing human rights abuses in the Philippines and the “extraordinarily high number of deaths – and persistent reports of extrajudicial killings – in the context of campaigns against drug use”.

Amnesty on Monday accused Duterte of carrying out a “large-scale murdering enterprise”, and said he should be investigated by the UN for crimes against humanity.

The confirmed death toll of suspects killed in anti-drugs operations currently stands at 5,425 since July 2016, something that Ms Bachelet described as “a matter of most serious concern for any country”.

“Acled’s findings are consistent with our findings and are an affirmation of the need for the international community, the UN Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court to take action,” said Carlos Conde, Philippines researcher for Human Rights Watch.

The statistics reveal that efforts to clean up the Philippines have resulted in more than 450 direct anti-civilian violent attacks, causing 490 deaths since January 2019. The most targeted regions are Central Luzon, Calabarzon and the capital Manila.

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