Tool to predict mass killings unveiled

2015-09-22 18:32
Israeli policemen inspect anti-Zionist Hebrew graffiti sprayed at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust museum compound. (Menahem Kahana, AFP)

Israeli policemen inspect anti-Zionist Hebrew graffiti sprayed at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust museum compound. (Menahem Kahana, AFP)

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Washington - The US Holocaust Memorial Museum has unveiled an online tool to forecast which countries have the highest risk of state-led mass killings.

The aim of the project is to help prevent civilian mass atrocities by providing earlier and more accurate warning to governments, advocacy groups, and at-risk societies on an ongoing basis, the museum in Washington, DC said on its website on Monday.

The project will make statistical analysis and feedback from experts publicly available.

"The critical early warning data provided by the annual statistical risk assessments and real-time, wisdom-of-crowds assessments of the Early Warning Project can help put us in a position where we are equipped to prevent atrocities, rather than simply responding to them after they occur," said Cameron Hudson, director of the museum's Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide .

"From past genocides in Darfur, Bosnia, Rwanda, and the Holocaust, we have learned what the clear early warning signs are that precede mass violence.

"Tracking those indicators in at-risk countries around the world will, for the first time, allow us to look over the horizon to implement smarter, cheaper, and more effective policies that prevent mass violence."

Though formally unveiled on Monday, developers have been testing the tool for two years and have identified the top 10 countries most at risk of mass killings.

Topping the list is Myanmar, followed by Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.

The tool takes into consideration factors including political instability and potential threats to a regime’s hold on power that might lead to a response in the form of a mass killing. 

Live expert feedback is also part of the project, which defines mass killings as killings of more than 1 000 civilians.

"While our system highlights and analyses those cases where mass atrocities are currently ongoing in Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, North Korea, Central African Republic, Libya, Nigeria, and Congo, the important gap we seek to fill is to shine a light and spark discussion on those cases where mass atrocities have not started but where risks are detected," the project website says.

The Early Warning Project was jointly created by the Simon-Skjodt Center and the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College.

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