General — 18 March 2014 — by Kareem Clarke
Belize still ranks among countries with highest murder rates

A recent World Bank report has classified Belize among a handful of Latin American and Caribbean countries which account for more than 30% of the world’s homicides.

The World Bank’s Citizen Security Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, Rodrigo Serrano-Berthet, has revealed in a recent report by the World Bank – published on March 5 – that even though the Latin American and Caribbean states only possess 9% of the world’s population, almost one of every three murders globally are committed there.

In fact, the United Nations (UN) has qualified crime and violence in these areas as an “epidemic” and considers the region to be the most insecure in the world.

According to the World Bank’s report, 30% of the world’s homicides occur in these two regions, and the report adds that of the 50 cities around the world that have the highest homicide rates, 42 of those cities are in Latin America, including the top 16.

Seven of the 10 countries with the world’s highest homicide rates are located in this region. Of these 10, Serrano-Berthet indicated that Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala make up the countries with the highest murder rates in Central America, while Venezuela, Colombia, and Brazil rank highest in South America.

In the Caribbean, Belize and Jamaica have the highest rates, despite a drastic reduction in murders in Belize in 2013.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), there were over 27,000 homicides in Mexico in 2011 — 24 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants, while Brazil – which accounts for more than 30% of all homicides in the region – experienced an even worse year with over 42,000 murders, 27 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Mexico has an estimated population of over 118 million people, and Brazil is inhabited by a population of over 201 million persons.

Serrano-Berthet ranked Belize high on the list, but the UNODC report shows Belize – which has an estimated population of over 330,000 – only recorded 124 homicides in 2011, while the Dominican Republic – which has over 10 million inhabitants – had the highest in 2011 with 2,500 murders.

Other areas of concern to Latin Americans, such as inflation, poverty and unemployment, have improved, but by contrast, the incidence of crime and violence has not changed in recent decades, and remains at very high levels, much higher than in other regions, according to the report.

Serrano-Berthet admitted that there is no magic wand to solve the issues, and added that investments in a “portfolio of comprehensive interventions” to focus on the geographical areas and population groups at greatest risk, and to strengthen the capabilities of municipal governments which are most affected by violence, are needed to address the problem.

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