Geneva – UN agencies urged governments on Wednesday to start implementing violence prevention measures if they want to bring down the annual number of violent deaths from nearly half a million.
In 2012, an estimated 475 000 people died due to murder or manslaughter, according to the latest available UN statistics.
However, homicide rates have dropped by 16% since 2000, the report by the World Health Organisation, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime pointed out in a report on violence prevention.
The risk of death by murder or manslaughter is highest for young men. Homicide is the third leading cause of death for males between the ages of 15 and 44, the report said.
The report, which covers 133 countries, also revealed that millions of women and children around the world suffer from violence.
A third of all women have been physically or sexually abused by their partner, a quarter of all children have been physically abused, and one in five girls has been sexually abused, the UN agencies found.
They said that only a third of the surveyed countries had launched broad violence-prevention programmes, and only half have services for helping victims.
“High levels of family and community violence cripple both people’s ability to sustain their individual livelihoods, as well as a nation’s options for political, social, and economic development,” UNDP chief Helen Clark said.
She urged governments to improve the quality of prevention programmes, and to expand services to female victims of violence.
More than a third of the total homicides in 2012 happened in Latin America.
The region’s homicide rate of 28.5 per 100 000 inhabitants is the highest for any group of low- and middle-income countries in the world.
Developing and emerging countries in Africa followed on second place, with a homicide rate of 10.9.
At 2.1, the rate was lowest in Western Pacific low- and middle-income countries, including China.
Wealthy countries recorded 3.8 homicides per 100 000 people.