Turn the page on poverty

Killer facts

  • Poor countries are 4 times as likely to have conflict as rich ones.
  • One third of the world’s poor live in countries where there is war or another form of armed conflict.
  • There were 8.4 million refugees in 2005. The great majority of them were hosted in poor countries, rather than rich countries.
  • There are currently 25 million internally displaced people, 110,000 of which were newly displaced by violence in the first half of 2006. An additional 20 million people are affected by conflict.
  • Conflicts fell by 40 percent between 1992 and 2004, but around 30 still remain, many of them even after a formal 'peace' deal has been agreed. The great majority of them are in poor countries.
  • There are over 600 million small arms in the world, or one for every ten people, produced by over 1,000 companies in at least 98 countries.
  • 16 billion units of ammunition are produced each year - more than two new bullets for every man, woman and child on the planet.
  • Nearly 60 per cent of small arms are in civilian hands.
  • The majority of illegal small arms start out as legally traded weapons.
  • More than 500,000 people on average are killed with small arms every year: one person every minute.
  • There are 300,000 child soldiers involved in conflicts.
  • One third of countries spend more on the military than they do on health-care services.
  • In Africa, economic losses due to war are about US$15 billion per year.
  • An average of US$22 billion a year is spent on arms by countries in Africa, Asia, Middle East and Latin America. Half of this amount would enable every girl and boy in those regions to go to primary school.
  • Nearly half (42 percent) of countries with the highest defence spending rank among the lowest in human development.
  • Lawfully held civilian stockpiles of firearms in the Pacific exceed 3.1 million – one for every ten people. This is 50 percent above the world average.
  • Civilian guns in the Pacific outnumber those of the armed forces and police by a ratio of 14 to one.

Source: Oxfam / Small arms in the Pacific (Alpers/Twyford 2003)