November 2, 2014


Murder capitals of the world: how runaway urban growth fuels violence (John Vidal, 1 November 2014, The Guardian)

Now research by security and development groups suggests that the violence plaguing San Pedro Sula - a city of just over a million, and Honduras's second largest - and many other Latin American and African cities may be linked not just to the drug trade, extortion and illegal migration, but to the breakneck speed at which urban areas have grown in the last 20 years.

The faster cities grow, the more likely it is that the civic authorities will lose control and armed gangs will take over urban organisation, says Robert Muggah, research director at the Igarapé Institute in Brazil.

"Like the fragile state, the fragile city has arrived. The speed and acceleration of unregulated urbanisation is now the major factor in urban violence. A rapid influx of people overwhelms the public response," he adds. "Urbanisation has a disorganising effect and creates spaces for violence to flourish," he writes in a new essay in the journal Environment and Urbanization.

Muggah predicts that similar violence will inevitably spread to hundreds of other "fragile" cities now burgeoning in the developing world. Some, he argues, are already experiencing epidemic rates of violence. "Runaway growth makes them suffer levels of civic violence on a par with war-torn [cities such as] Juba, Mogadishu and Damascus," he writes. "Places like Ciudad Juárez, Medellín and Port au Prince ... are becoming synonymous with a new kind of fragility with severe humanitarian implications."

Simon Reid-Henry, of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, said: "Today's wars are more likely to be civil wars and conflict is increasingly likely to be urban. 

Violence is a function of the population density of young men.

Posted by at November 2, 2014 7:36 AM

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